Sharing our findings with research participants in South Yorkshire
A blog entry by Magdolna Lőrinc,
Sustainable Care Research Associate
The research team ‘Care in and out of place’ – Majella Kilkey, Louise Ryan, Magdolna Lőrinc and Obert Tawodzera – organised a dissemination and networking event in Sheffield on 11 March 2020, hosted in collaboration with the Sustainable Care Programme by Sadacca (Sheffield & District Afro Caribbean Community Association), one of the NGOs we worked with during our research with older migrants.
Our Care in and out of place: the experiences of ageing migrants event was an opportunity to share our findings and launch a report of our main findings about the intersections of ageing, migration and care in the UK. Our study examined how older people born in other countries experience ageing in the UK, investigating their wellbeing, care needs, and access to care and support. It was conducted with migrants from the Caribbean, Ireland and Poland living in South Yorkshire and London between July 2018 and September 2019.
Community organisations, faith groups and other NGOs working with older people helped us recruit study participants and the event honoured our commitment to share our findings with them. Our South Yorkshire research participants were invited to join us, and every attendee received a copy of our report.
The event brought together older people, NGOs, researchers and policymakers to discuss ageing and migration, care provision and support services for older people, explore how academic research can contribute to the work they do, and begin to ‘co-produce’ recommendations based on our findings.
Majella Kilkey and Louise Ryan welcomed attendees to the event and presented our main findings.
- Like many other migrants who arrived in Britain in the 1940s and 50s, our participants had played a key role in rebuilding the country after World War II, making enormous cultural, social and economic contributions to society.
- Constraints on funding of adult social care services had left some older migrants having to use their own resources to pay for care they now needed in later life.
- Despite an expectation that new technologies might ‘transform’ aged care and help people remain in their own homes for longer, many in the study were reluctant to engage with technologies.
- Some spoke about their loneliness and shrinking social networks – factors associated with life events linked to growing older, such as bereavement, reduced mobility, the onset of dementia and caring for partners who were ill or frail. Government policy encourages ageing in place for older people, especially those with reduced mobility, but for some this can result in isolation.
- NGOs played a vital role in providing care and support to ageing migrants and were often their most important source of information about benefits and entitlements to health and care services. Some also provided day care and home care services for older people. Over the past decade these NGOs had been severely affected by austerity measures and they now relied on precarious funding and volunteer staff.
- Many participants expressed concerns about maintaining their transnational networks. The costs of visiting their home countries, or of hosting visiting relatives from abroad, made keeping in touch with family and friends difficult.
- Uncertainties caused by Brexit and the Windrush scandal were also discussed, and had caused worry and concern to some.
The research team concluded their presentation by proposing talking points for discussion: older people’s loneliness and isolation; the risk of being ‘trapped’ in their own homes; the role of NGOs; recognising older migrants’ contribution to British society; maintaining transnational networks; and the implications of Brexit for the social care workforce.
The presentation was followed by a panel discussion on the intersection of migration, ageing and care in the South Yorkshire context chaired by Steve Chu, Chief Executive, Age UK Sheffield with panellists who included: Olivier Tsemo, Sadacca’s CEO; David Bussue, Director, Sheffield African Caribbean Mental Health Association; and Dave Oldroyd, Chair, Sheffield Irish Association. Each provided an overview of their organisation and reflected on how our research findings could be useful for them and wider audiences. They appreciated our focus on migrant communities and older people, highlighting the need for reliable, relevant and up-to-date information and felt our research report had the potential to strengthen their future funding applications. For NGOs surviving on a shoestring, they explained, a key priority would be to engage with academic research in ways that generate income and funding for them.
The panel discussion provided an opportunity for the research team to consult and engage with people and organisations working with older people, especially migrants, and to identify further ways of collaborating. Discussion of our findings continued in an audience Q&A session, with contributions from representatives of local NGOs, Sheffield City Council and older research participants. The event ended with a lunch provided by Sadacca, allowing those attending to network and chat while savouring many delicious Caribbean specialities.