The Ageing Hub Blog
Welcome to the Ageing Hub blog!
The Ageing Hub Blog is a space for the Ageing Hub team to keep you updated on what’s happening in the world of ageing across Greater Manchester, from the Hub itself and beyond. The blog will provide updates on our work every month, as well as inviting guests to share and write about the fantastic activities they are doing in Greater Manchester’s ageing ecosystem.
The Greater Manchester Older People’s Mental Health Network (May 2023)
Sophie Webb, Greater Manchester Older People's Mental Health Network Development Worker
Who are we?
The Greater Manchester Older People’s Mental Health Network is a group of older people aged 50+ who have lived experience of mental health, whether that be first hand or as a carer. We are here not to replace any existing group, but to join up different networks across Greater Manchester, to bolster the voice of older people within service transformation and policy influence.
The network began development in August 2022, and officially launched in March 2023. This was off the back of the Don’t Brush It Under The Carpet self-harm awareness campaign that was co-produced with the Greater Manchester Older People’s Network and their Health & Social Care working group. It was identified that there was a need for a specific focus on older people’s mental health, therefore the idea of creating this network came about.
What do we do?
Our members share their experiences as older people who have accessed mental health support or cared for someone, to influence the transformation of mental health support across Greater Manchester, ensuring that services are age-appropriate and created with lived experience at the core. We do this in various ways such as through storytelling, discussions, and creative workshops including poetry, and encourage our members to link with work that is also happening in their local area. We aim to support and empower people to engage in this work, encouraging them to become lived experience leaders.
The story so far...
We had our official launch event on March 2nd, 2023, where we had key speakers from the Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership (GM ICP), NHS England, and Greater Manchester Ageing Hub. Some of our network members proudly shared their experiences of what drove them to be involved and what their hopes and aspirations are for the network, explaining that they want to create a movement. The launch was attended by those from the VSCE sector, GM ICP, NHS trusts and members of the community, and we had some insightful discussions that helped us to identify some key themes for the network to focus on. These included, raising the profile of older people and removing the stigma around older people’s mental health, more equity, intersectionality and standardisation of services.
Our members have been meeting regularly, starting to create an identity for the group and sharing their experiences and knowledge. We have been undertaking story gathering activities to understand people’s experiences of accessing mental health support, as well as what worked well and what didn’t, and have feed these stories into different areas of the Community Mental Health Transformation and we have had promotion on a national level at an NHS England webinar as well as locally at the Greater Manchester Reform Board. We have also been feeding into the Greater Manchester Older Adults Clinical Reference Group, as well as the new Living Well models across Greater Manchester.
As the network continues to develop and grow, we will continue to recruit members from across Greater Manchester, ensuring we have a diverse membership that is representative of the city region. We will also be continuing to promote the network through various forms such as at events and through videos. We will be starting to engage with projects within the community mental health transformation and are excited to continue ensuring that the voice of older people is included in ensuring support across Greater Manchester is inclusive of older people, and hope that this network becomes a movement!
If you would like to be involved with the Greater Manchester Older People's Mental Health Network, please email GMOPN@macc.org.uk
Additionally, you can find more information on our website: https://www.gmopn.org.uk/
Image created by Tom Bailey at the GM OPMHN launch event capturing conversations of the day.
Words by Sophie Webb
Inequalities and Covid-19: Developing a community-based response (March 2023)
Chris Phillipson, Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research into Ageing, University of Manchester
In a televised address on March 23rd 2020, the Prime Minister instructed people to stay in their homes, and avoid meeting friends, as well as family members not living at home. The call was a response to the spread of a deadly infectious disease – SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. The pandemic was to have a devastating impact on all areas of life but with inequalities affecting different groups and communities.
Over the period March and December 2020, twice as many years of life were lost in the very poorest areas of the country compared with the wealthiest1. In the case of Greater Manchester, more than a quarter of deaths, in the first wave of the pandemic, were amongst people living in the most deprived areas of the region. Ethnic inequalities were a feature across all waves of the pandemic, with rates of death highest amongst Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups.
Older people suffered hugely from the pandemic – whether in care homes or private households. Just taking the period from January to December 2020, 72,178 people died 60 days after testing positive for COVID-19 or with it mentioned on their death certificate – 67, 451 of whom were 60 and over (42,976, 80 and over)2.
And COVID-19 transmission remains high, with one in 40 people in England infected in the week ending February 28th 2023. Deaths involving COVID-19 are also high amongst older people – 402 people 75 and over in the week ending March 3rd 2023 (out of 499 across all age groups).
Regions such as Greater Manchester took a significant hit from COVID-19, in part of because of the impact of austerity in the decade from 2010. Build Back Fairer: The Marmot Review3 highlighted how mortality rates were higher than they would have been if conditions in deprived neighbourhoods had improved rather than deteriorated in the period to 2020.
But communities in GM also showed greater resilience in the face of COVID-19 – as continues to be the case. Community organisations played a vital role, expanding traditional as well as developing new activities, including meal deliveries, IT assistance, telephone befriending schemes, and bereavement counselling.
Communities have highlighted inequalities arising from the pandemic but also ways of mobilising resistance to those most affected. Greater Manchester, as a World Health Organization Age-Friendly Region, is well-placed to provide continuing support to groups and neighbourhoods vulnerable to COVID-19 and new variants. To achieve this, four areas of work will be essential:
First, local authorities in the region should undertake an assessment of additional resources which may be needed by voluntary organisations given what will be intense pressures to expand the scope of their work – with the cost-of-living crisis adding to COVID-19-related issues. This is especially the case in low-income areas where the pandemic had the most damaging impact. Meetings with representative groups need to be organised to identify gaps in support, and priorities for intervention over the short and medium-term.
Second, mobilising community participation will be vital in the next phase of the pandemic, in particular: supporting those working on a voluntary basis within neighbourhoods; assisting new and existing mutual aid groups; ensuring accessible meeting places – the closure of pubs, libraries and community centres depleting for many localities the social networks which sustain community life.
Third, given pressures on health and social care, community advocates will be needed for those requiring services but lacking anyone who can speak on their behalf. This may be especially important for groups – such as those from minority ethnic communities4 and older adults - who may experience various forms of discrimination in accessing services.
Fourth, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital inclusion, with many services going online. This has created problems for those excluded from accessing IT: the evidence suggests that some 1.2 million people across GM might be digitally excluded in some way, with Office for National Statistics data for 2021 showing that 57% of people 75 and over had not used the internet over the past three past three months or had never used the internet. The GM Digital Task Force is a major initiative in this regard, with the ambition to help all under-25s, over-75s and people with a disability to get online.
The impact of COVID-19 can be measured in a variety of ways – quality of life, mortality, and long-term illness. Reflecting these, we know that the pandemic has already accelerated the decline in life expectancy that had started to affect poorer areas in GM over the period 2010-2020. In consequence, developing new public health policies, such as Making Manchester Fairer5, will be necessary to address the deep-seated inequalities which COVID-19 has exposed. Supporting this task must be the knowledge gained working within and getting support from those communities and groups for whom the effects of the pandemic are likely to stretch over many years to come.
Note: An extended discussion of the issues reviewed in this blog may be found in the forthcoming book: Policy Press | COVID-19, Inequality and Older People - Everyday Life during the Pandemic (bristoluniversitypress.co.uk) (External Link)
- Covid impact in poorer areas of England and Wales ‘worse than first thought’ (The Guardian - 15 Feb 2022)
- COVID-19 confirmed deaths in England (to 31 December 2020): report - GOV.UK (Gov.UK - Updated 3 May 2022)
- Build Back Fairer: The COVID-19 Marmot Review (External Link - Institute of Health Equity - June 2021)
- Ethnic Minority Older People, Histories of Structural Racism and the COVID-19 Pandemic PDF (University of Manchester - November 2021)
- Making Manchester Fairer (Manchester City Council)
Falls Prevention in Greater Manchester (February 2023)
Beth Mitchell, Ageing Well Programme Manager, Greater Manchester Ageing Hub
Falls are considered to be a major public health issue, being the second major cause of death and disability after road traffic accidents. They are the largest cause for emergency hospital admissions for older people and are a major precipitant of people moving from their own home to long-term nursing or residential care. What we do know is that in Greater Manchester we are continuing to see much higher rates of falls compared to the rest of the England. Of the ten boroughs in Greater Manchester, six of the areas have recorded higher rates of hospital admissions due to falls than the rest of England2. This is very much the case as to why Greater Manchester prioritises falls prevention across all our settings, inclusive of clinical, care and community settings. We know that falls are not a natural part of ageing and can be prevented; hence why we are incredibly passionate about making prevention an integral part of policy and practice.
What have we done so far?
In January 2022, the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, in partnership with the Healthy Ageing Research group at the University of Manchester, GreaterSport, and the former Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (now the NHS Integrated Care Partnership), launched the ‘Greater Manchester Falls Prevention: Delivering Integration and Reconditioning’ report (External Link). Within the report, we committed to establishing a regional Greater Manchester Falls Collaborative which will oversee and deliver the strategic and specific recommendations for falls prevention, integration and reconditioning across community, clinical and care settings.
On Monday 23rd January, the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, in partnership with key stakeholders from the Greater Manchester Falls Collaborative Strategy group, launched the ‘Greater Manchester Falls Collaborative’. The event was incredibly successful, with over one hundred delegates from across all sectors, such as the NHS, Public Health and the leisure sector, plus older people from the communities of Greater Manchester. We have started to develop and are committed to continuing to co-design a ‘Falls Prevention delivery model’ for the system, with the aspiration to adapt this to other elements of ageing well. We are very much looking forward to continuing to progress this over the coming months, with further opportunities to engage.
What will the Greater Manchester Falls collaborative be responsible for?
The overall ambition of the Greater Manchester Falls Collaborative is to ‘improve the health and wellbeing of Greater Manchester residents in preventing falls, improving strength and balance and supporting reconditioning.’ Greater Manchester has a strong history of working in collaboration, across a range of sectors to achieve a common goal. We know from the period of consultation when developing the report that working with all areas of Greater Manchester is the only way that we can achieve an equitable, accessible falls prevention service which meets the needs of our local, diverse communities. There are a number of themes which are a key focus for the collaborative, these include: Equity of access and equality, embedding evidence and evaluating what works, data improvement, insight and interrogation, workforce development, recruiting and training and finally the use of digital technologies that enhance and enable. There was also a strong consensus around the development of a community of learning, to enable the system to share learnings as they emerge, share problems that we are facing as a system, and work to solve issues together.
We are very much looking forward to continuing to develop this work over the coming months. We are hosting an online session for those that were unable to attend the above workshop on Thursday the 9th of March from 9:30am-12:15pm (please email Beth Mitchell for more details on how to attend: Bethany.Mitchell@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk), which will provide another opportunity to influence the development of a system-wide action plan. We also ask that if you are interested in being involved in the work more broadly, helping shape and deliver across the system, then please do get in touch! 😊
2022: The year in review (January 2023)
Joe De Paola, Project Officer, Greater Manchester Ageing Hub
In this month’s blog, we are reflecting on the work which was undertaken by the Ageing Hub and its partners in 2022.
Pension Top Up campaign
May 2022 saw the GM Ageing Hub, in collaboration with Greater Manchester Housing Providers and national charity Independent Age, launch the second phase of the 'Pension Top Up' campaign to encourage greater uptake of benefits and entitlements for older people in Greater Manchester.
Research done by GMCA shows that approximately 36,000 qualifying households are missing out on around £70m in unclaimed Pension Credit. With the cost of living soaring, this is money which could make a real difference to the lives of older people.
The first phase of the Pension Top Up campaign, launched in January 2021 during the pandemic, generated at least £3 million of additional income for older GM residents. The second phase sought to reach even more older people.
The Hub’s partners for the campaign, Independent Age, offered free 1-hour training sessions, which provided a deep dive into Pension Credit and Attendance Allowance. Over 400 frontline workers from across Greater Manchester signed up for the training.
The campaign was featured in the Manchester Evening News, Bolton News and on BBC Radio Manchester. As well as this, the Centre for Ageing Better featured the campaign as an example of good practice in increasing Pension Credit uptake in age-friendly communities (external website).
Ageing in Place Pathfinder launch
On 1st October the Ageing Hub launched the Greater Manchester Ageing in Place Pathfinder.
The £4 million Pathfinder is working in eight neighbourhoods in Greater Manchester to test new ways of supporting older people to live well for longer with better health and connections in their local community. In these neighbourhoods older people will lead the way on deciding how best to invest in ways that link their needs as they age to the community in which they live. The Pathfinder recognises that experiences of strong and supportive neighbourhoods are the most important contributor to good wellbeing in later life.
Over the life of the Pathfinder the Ageing Hub’s partners will be ensuring that what we learn locally can support us to expand, sustain and scale the programme so that all places in Greater Manchester are a “great place to grow older”.
Ageing Well in Greater Manchester
On the 18th of October 2022, the Ageing Hub held the first ‘Greater Manchester Ageing Well workshop’. The purpose of the workshop was to share our collaboration with the GM Integrated Care Partnership and bring together the whole system to develop a ‘Greater Manchester Ageing Well Model.’ Our main aims through this work are to create a change in approach to health and social care to ensure we have a more proactive care system in the right place, try to prevent poor outcomes through healthy and active ageing within a place, build on existing community-based age-friendly initiatives; and finally improve the quality of existing acute and community services - ensuring people get the right care when they need it.
As part of the Ageing Well programme, we are also leading on the development and coordination of the ‘Greater Manchester Falls Collaborative.’
In November the Ageing Hub officially launched the Winterwise campaign, in partnership with Independent Age.
The Winterwise guide brings together key information for older people on cost of living support with messages focusing on three themes - ‘Stay warm’, ‘Stay safe’ and ‘Stay well’. More than 325,000 guides have been printed for the campaign, which continue to be distributed across the city-region. With support from Talking About My Generation – the first older person’s led newsroom in the UK - a video was produced with older residents (external website) in Greater Manchester to promote the guide.
As the costs of energy, food and other bills continue to rise, the Winterwise guide has been offering Greater Manchester’s older residents crucial support over difficult winter months.
Ageing Hub team growth
Over 2022, the Ageing Hub’s core team also underwent transformation, with the team growing significantly. The Ageing Hub now includes 4 members of staff dedicated to the Ageing In Place Pathfinder Project, an Ageing Well Programme Manager and secondments into the team. In total, the team grew from 3 core members to 10 over the course of the year. We were also delighted to extend our partnership with Centre for Ageing Better, and have recruited a new Strategic Partnership Manager to lead this work
By working together, the Greater Manchester ecosystem made a genuine and positive difference to the lives of older people in GM. As we look forward to 2023, the Ageing Hub will build on these strong partnerships and continue working to make Greater Manchester the UK’s leading age friendly city-region.
Greater Manchester attracts the international community (November 2022)
Joe De Paola, Project Officer, Greater Manchester Ageing Hub
This month, we are looking beyond Greater Manchester’s borders and recognising the significant interest from the international community keen to learn about the work that is going on in the city-region. Working with international partners provides the Ageing Hub, and wider Greater Manchester system, with the opportunity to share best practice, learn from others and promote the city-region as one of the world's leading age friendly communities.
Recently, the Ageing Hub welcomed the ‘South Korea Ageing in Place Research Network’ to Greater Manchester. Both the UK and South Korea face major challenges of an ageing population, particularly in supporting inclusive healthy ageing and sustainable health and social care provision. To this end recent policy drivers in the UK and South Korea have focused on place-based ageing through concepts such as ‘Integrated Care Systems’ and ‘Integrated Community Care System’, with a particular emphasis on the role of housing.
The Korean delegation came to Manchester specifically to learn more about the GM Ageing Hub and the history of our work. The delegates had an interest in Greater Manchester’s ecosystem and GM’s cross-sector partnership working approach to issues around ageing. Colleagues from the University of Manchester, Tine Buffel, Professor of Social and Social Gerontology, and Chris Phillipson, Professor of Sociology and Social Gerontology, also presented to the delegation. Tine and Chris brought perspectives from research about ageing in place.
The visit was a great success, and it was agreed that there will be future research collaborations between the South Korea team and Greater Manchester.
Ageing Hub, Manchester School of Architecture & Greater Manchester Older People’s Network colleagues welcomed visitors from the other side of the globe, too. Michelle Hoar came to Greater Manchester on behalf of the Hey Neighbour Collective, Vancouver (External website) - a project funded by Worwin's Canadian sister organisation the Walton Trust. Knowledge and ideas were exchanged on the role of housing and housing providers in tackling social isolation and loneliness and opportunities for further shared learning and collaboration.
International speakers have also been welcomed by GM’s wider ageing ecosystem. At one of our weekly ‘wider team’ meetings we were joined by Miu Tsui, a former resident in Hong Kong who is now working for Southway Housing (External website). Miu spoke to the team about her 6-year long experience of working as part of the Age-friendly Programme in Hong Kong (External website). This £20 million city-wide project used a bottom-up, district-based, evidence-based and cross-sectoral collaborative approach to create age friendly platforms in all 18 of Hong Kong’s districts.
Miu spoke about the approaches that were taken by different partners and stakeholders in Hong Kong (including universities, non-governmental organisations, local authority, business sector & public sector and older people) to make the project a success. Activities included assessments, action plans, programmes, training and upskilling of older people, publicity and public education and project evaluation. It was a fascinating introduction to one of the world’s most impressive age friendly projects, and it was noted by the wider team that there were striking similarities in issues, insights and lessons learnt between Hong Kong and Greater Manchester when building an age-friendly city region.
From Bilbao to Tokyo
As well as welcoming guests to the city-region to learn and share best practice, Paul McGarry, Head of the GM Ageing Hub, has been busy presenting to a number of overseas bodies and authorities. In one exciting overseas venture Paul was invited to Bilbao to speak to the Basque regional authority about the dignity of older people in the face of ageism and other forms of exclusion, the creation of emotionally healthy environments against loneliness, technology and rights. Paul also presented, virtually, at the ‘International Forum on the Super Aging Challenge (External website)’ conference in Japan, organised by the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the Financial Times. With a particular interest at the conference in community and the social participation of older people, Paul chose to speak to the Japanese guests about the work of the Greater Manchester Older People’s Network.
As communities and governments seek to rebuild and plan for an ageing society in a post-pandemic world, it is refreshing that many international policy makers are looking to Greater Manchester for education and inspiration. The widespread interest from the international community in Greater Manchester is a testament to the truly amazing work being done across the city-region by partners throughout the ageing ecosystem, and shows that Greater Manchester is at the forefront of the ageing agenda.
Article Published: 08/11/2022 15:13 PM