Ageing, race and ethnicity

Lead Research Organisation: Brunel University
Department Name: Clinical Sciences


The next twenty to thirty years will see important changes in the size and nature of the part of the total population that is defined as being in later life. Our population will continue to age with an increasing absolute and relative number of people aged 50 and over. At the same time there will also be a marked increase the proportion of people in black and minority populations in the later life age groups as we see the ageing of the migrant populations who moved to the UK in the post war period. However we know very little about the circumstances and experiences of black and minority elders in terms how they experience 'growing older'; what the key challenges (and opportunities) this confronts them with, what are the most important research questions to ask, what are the best ways to undertake research with these diverse groups; how should we train health and social care staff to work with diverse populations and how relevant is contemporary social and health policy for these diverse groups.

In addition we have limited numbers of social researchers who are expert in this area of research so there is a pressing need to stimulate new researchers to move into this area and encourage those at the start of their careers to develop skills in this area of research. Thus our seminar series proposal is highly relevant to our understanding of population ageing and the challenges faced by a 'newly ageing' population and highly original in combining a focus on generating substantive state of the art overview of contemporary knowledge, identifying our key knowledge gaps, developing 'new ' researchers and creating a network of experienced and emerging researchers combining with practitioners and policy makers to develop vibrant collaborations and a mechanism to raise the profile of this important area of work.

Our series of 6 seminars will identify and debate the key issues surrounding the experience of ageing amongst a diverse range of ethnic minority communities. We will include both the visible communities such as our African Caribbean and South Asian populations but those groups who are less visible such as Chinese, Arab, black African and Turkish communities. We will explore ethnic and cultural differences of mid and older life and focus upon the following questions:-
1. What are the experiences of later life and old age for black and ethnic minority people?
2. What are the most appropriate approaches to researching these groups?
3. How well do current health & social policies support our ageing black and minority populations?
4. How well equipped are health and social care practitioners to practice with an increasingly diverse ageing population?
5. What are the key issues that need to be addressed in future research?

To answer these questions we will bring together established international academics, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners. We have established collaborations between non-governmental organisations such as the Runnymede Trust and Carers UK as well as having delegates from Age UK and Age Cymru. Embedded with each substantive seminar there will be time devoted to developing and supporting early career researchers so that our seminar series leaves a legacy of a new research network, a group of early career researchers skilled in conducting research with these populations alongside the dissemination of the key new knowledge generated as a result of our programme.

Planned Impact

The ultimate aim of this seminar series is to stimulate research in the broad area of ageing amongst ethnic minority communities via the creation of a robust new research network, the generation of research outputs and the development of a research agenda. This is a long term goal, and it is expected that it will have, in the long term, social impact. This will result from contributing towards: evidence based policy-making; shaping and enhancing the effectiveness of public services; helping to transform evidenced based policy into practice and influencing professionals and practitioners working in related fields. In addition, it will help to inform public awareness and understanding of issues around 'growing older' for ethnic minority communities.

In the shorter term, there will be a range of opportunities for the research team to contribute to current debates, policy and practice. Building strong research relationships with potential users, fellow researchers and other relevant parties in the early stages of the series will provide the foundation for creating significant impact in the longer term. Indeed, an important short to medium term impact will arise from the creation of strong working relationships with the range of stakeholders involved in seminars in order to facilitate collaboration on new projects, the co-production of new research, conference presentations and other activities aimed at raising the profile of this important topic

Who will benefit and how?

a) Policy makers and practitioners
New evidence will be generated upon which to develop appropriate policies, practices and understanding about people growing older within black and ethnic minority communities;

b) Third sector and voluntary organisations
Increasingly, the social and physical environment for older people has become central in promoting well-being in later life. Charities that advocate for older people play an important role in facilitating developments in these areas. This project will recognise the specific needs of older people from black and ethnic minority populations and help such charities to better understand these populations' needs;

c) Older people from ethnic minority communities
The voices of older people remain muted within much research and this is especially so for those from minority communities, particularly the 'hidden' and more recently arrived groups. Our seminar series will give a voice to this important group of older people and ensure that their concerns and issues are made visible to the research, policy and practice communities;

d) Early career researchers participating in the seminars
They will have the opportunity to both develop substantive and methodological skills but will benefit from a range of career development activities including advice on publishing, mentoring and the opportunity to broaden their networks amongst a range of relevant communities (academic, policy, practice & older people);

e) The seminar series organising team
We anticipate that a successful seminar series will have a long term positive impact on the careers of those involved. This project provides a unique opportunity for the three early career researcher applicants to participate in interdisciplinary meetings and the extra skills gained from participating in an interdisciplinary project will enhance their employability along with the other substantive and transferable skills gained as being part of the organising team.
Description As this was a seminar series we have not undertaken primary research to create new knowledge. However we have developed a good overview of the key issues in terms of theory, methods and research. In particular we have developed a much better understanding in how to undertake cross cultural, cross language research. Papers from our seminar series were published in a special issue of Ageing and Society in 2015.
Exploitation Route We think the importance of conducting high quality life course research is important and the need to be more sophisticated in approaching research conducted in a range of languages. We also think it important to examine differences within and between migrant groups from a range of countries of origin. it is important to consider the identification of the appropriate reference group-is it those ageing in the country of origin or the host country?
Sectors Healthcare,Other

Description Our findings have informed the development of policy in Runnymede about the needs of the ageing population in our minority communities. It has raised their awareness of the existence of this group. A key aim of our seminar series was to bring together international researchers and we have established good research links with researchers in the USA (Prof Ajrouch), Canada (Prof Keating) and with the IMISCOE group on ageing migrants. We submitted an EU grant on older migrants which was unsuccessful (2015-December). Within the UK we have developed a network of gerontologists interested in the ageing of minority groups as part of a developing interested in 'new ageing' populations. However we have had disappointing levels of engagement with scholars of race and ethnicity.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Healthcare,Other
Impact Types Societal

Description Ethics and methods of researching older adults from minority(ised) ethnic groups 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Discussion of complexity of undertaking research with minority elders
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016