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Defining well-being

a report of research with older peoleThe report Voices on Well-being presents a summary of the key findings from the national consultation held in phase one of the project, in which a diverse range of older people were asked to define their well-being, the factors that shape it, the barriers to well-being, the impact of services on well-being and suggested improvements. 166 participants shared their views and concerns with us in focus groups and qualitative research interviews.

The research showed that participants define well-being as feeling healthy, free from pain and able to lead a positive life. They describe the feelings of well-being as: happiness, contentment, satisfaction, peace of mind, comfort, enjoyment and euphoria. Well-being is also associated with feelings of self-worth and achievement.

It also reveals that services older people believe are crucial to their well-being are suffering as a result of government cuts across the country which are creating greater pressures on the health service.

The Shaping our Age study reveals:

  • Social interaction is cited as being one of the most important factors to improved well-being and quality of life, but older people are feeling more isolated as services become increasingly remote – for instance as services move online, or as local facilities close.
  • There is a tangible impact on older people, the wider community and the UK economy as a result of cuts to public services designed to prevent older people from being isolated, such as day centres and befriending services (eg organised shopping trips, exercise classes, or specialist one-to-one support during times of change or difficulty).
  • The level of practical support available to older people to enable them to continue living in their own home is not sufficient, and there is a need for greater access to support at critical times, such as following bereavement.
  • There are significant failings in hospital care for older people – poor treatment from hospital staff, poor hospital hygiene and low disability awareness.
  • The lack of dignity and respect exposed in hospital care is now being seen in other public services, such as GP surgeries – there is evidence that unacceptable older people’s care is present throughout the public sector, which is sparking concern about the quality of public services more broadly.

Download Voices on Well-being full report and summary

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