Professor Selena Gray and Dr Afroditi Stathi, Directors of the Active Older People Health Integration Team give an update on their work in 2015-16.
The Active People: Promoting Healthy Life Expectancy (APPHLE) HIT aims to improve activity and health in later life. In middle-aged and older people, physical activity helps maintain physical and mental function and reduces risk of physical and mental diseases.
The REACT study (Retirement into ACTion), led by Afroditi, was awarded £1.64 million by the NIHR Public Health Research Programme. This five-year multicentre trial targets people over 65 who are starting to find everyday activities difficult. The study is recruiting 800 participants into a 12-month physical activity and social programme, aimed at testing whether a decline in mobility and physical function can be slowed, stopped or even reversed.
The ACE project showed the physical health of people at risk of social isolation can be improved through increased community involvement. However, older people often cite a lack of motivation and the absence of friends or family to go with as barriers to getting out and about. Bath University worked with LinkAge over the last year to extend the project to parts of Bristol. LinkAge has now secured a three year grant from the Health and Social Care Volunteering Fund to scale up ACE in Bristol. Following feedback from local older people ACE is now promoted as the ‘Befriending Plus’ programme.
APPHLE strongly supports the 20mph speed limits in Bristol’s residential areas. We have promoted the health benefits of slower speeds, as residents feel roads are safer and more attractive for walkers and cyclists. In March, Bristol’s full council debated continued rollout of the initiative. The majority of councillors and the elected mayor voted in favour, and their support was reflected in the local press.
We contributed to the Bristol Health Partners response to the West of England joint spatial plan. The partnership’s response challenged the four local authorities to ensure health and wellbeing are significant factors in planning decisions.
South Gloucestershire Council is running a pilot project to support people aged up to 75 at high risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Participants attend a six-week self-management course designed to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence to make lifestyle changes. Sixty participants have completed the course, with a second cohort under way. Feedback has been very positive and drop-out rates are low. UWE is evaluating this intervention.