Living Well as You Get Older

On Wednesday 15 May, the Rix Inclusive Research team made a significant impact at the Living Well as You Get Older knowledge exchange event held at the University of Greenwich.

This event was a collaborative effort organised by the Institute for Lifecourse Development (ILD), University of Greenwich, the British Society of Gerontology, purpleSTARS, and the Rix Inclusive Research Institute at the University of East London (UEL).

The event focused on promoting health and wellbeing among older adults with learning disabilities, providing insights, resources, and inspiration to help individuals lead fulfilling lives as they age. It brought together researchers, practitioners, and community members to share knowledge and strategies for healthy aging.

The event started with opening remarks from Prof Claire Monks, Professor of Developmental Psychology and Deputy Head of the ILD. Prof Andrew Clark followed with an introduction to the British Society of Gerontology, enlightening the audience on the society’s role and mission.

We then heard from Prof Lesley Dibley and Dr Genevieve Breau about scheduling regular health check-ups, including an annual health check, and what to expect at these appointments. Their presentations underscored the importance of consistent health monitoring and what individuals should expect during their visits. An important take away from their presentation was that patients don’t always get invited for an annual health check, and therefore it is crucial to remember to contact your GP practice to book an appointment each year.

Following this, Gosia Kwiatkowska, Rix director, led a discussion with Rix co-researchers Ajay, Baljit, Kiran, and Ros. During this session, the co-researchers shared their experiences accessing healthcare services and getting their health checks. Their insights were striking, highlighting areas in need of significant improvement.

4 people next to their posters
Baljit, Ros, Ajay and Kiran with the posters they co-designed

Ajay’s Experience

Ajay shared his experience of going to the hospital with high blood pressure and the challenges he faced during a weekend admission when no learning disability nurse was available to make reasonable adjustments for him. He had to rely on family support and felt tired and anxious, waiting the whole night before being offered a bed to rest on.

Kiran’s Experience

Kiran recounted an incident where a doctor spoke to her dad rather than her during a visit, asking personal questions about her body. Kiran expressed her frustration, emphasizing that as a young woman who can speak for herself, it was inappropriate for the doctor to direct such questions to her father.

Baljit’s Experience

Baljit had similar experiences during her health checks. Both she and Kiran felt they had to assert themselves to ensure doctors spoke directly to them, a practice that should be standard and should not have to be prompted or requested.

Ros’s Experience

Ros commented on the ideal scenario where she could attend appointments independently. However, for this to happen, doctors and health services need more resources to provide easy read information and clear explanations of procedures. She also noted that appointment times are often too short for thorough consultations and that personalised information, rather than generic leaflets, would be more beneficial.

After a lunch break that featured a delightful spread of healthy sandwiches and cakes, including a traditional Indian cake made from semolina and Greek yogurt by Kiran’s mum, the event continued with a presentation by Dr Amanda Amorim Adegboye on healthy eating and maintaining a nutritious diet. Dr Adegboye highlighted the importance of understanding food labels and identifying healthy alternatives, emphasising that appearances can be deceptive.

The co-researchers also shared tips from a leaflet they produced, Tips for living well, on making healthy food more interesting and motivating people to eat healthily. The co-researchers brought their favourite spices, a motivational drinking bottle to encourage hydration, and a healthy eating plate to help balance different food groups.

The Living Well as You Get Older event was a great success, thanks in large part to the contributions of the Rix Inclusive Research team and the participants from purpleSTARS. Their collaborative efforts showcased how inclusive research can effectively promote health and wellbeing among older adults. The posters created by Kiran, Baljit, Ros, and Ajay will hopefully inspire and motivate individuals to take proactive steps towards healthier living as they age.

2 poster designs
Posters designed by Kiran and Baljit
2 poster designs
Posters designed by Ros and Ajay

As we reflect on this event, it is clear that fostering inclusive research and community engagement can lead to meaningful and impactful outcomes. The Rix Inclusive Research team’s dedication to making health information accessible and engaging is a testament to the power of collaboration and the importance of supporting healthy aging for all. We are now planning our exhibition which will take place in late July 2024. Watch this space, and in the meantime, visit our project wiki,

Living Well As You Get Older wiki

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