Department for Health

Research to evaluate the promotion of sport and physical activity to older disabled adults

Tue Mar 04 10:16:00 GMT 2014

Wheelchair Dr Jessica Francombe-Webb and Dr Rachel Arnold from the Department for Health have secured funding from Age UK to conduct a longitudinal study that aims to evaluate the promotion of sport and physical activity to older disabled adults.

This evaluation will challenge inequality within health and social care and look at ways of improving access, provision, opportunity and ultimately health and wellbeing.

This research forms part of Age UK’s Inspire and Include 2014-2016 project, which aims to intervene and promote sport and physical activity for older disabled adults.

The impact of this evaluation will be far reaching, as recommendations will be made to improve Age UK’s national provision whilst also generating original research that will lead to further large scale interventions and contributions to policy.

The study is unique in terms of its multi-method approach - an approach that will allow data to be collected that:

  • demonstrates the effectiveness of the intervention, in terms of physical activity adherence and health improvement (both physiological and psychological)
  • captures the subjective lived experiences of the older disabled adults through focus groups and innovative visual methods such as photo elicitation interviews.

The combined methodological expertise of researchers from the departments for Health and Education allows the data to be collected from a broad range of groups, including:

  • Community Sports Partnerships (CSPs)
  • National Governing Bodies of Sport
  • Sport England
  • volunteer team leaders
  • older disabled adults

This data will then be used to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the project from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective.

The study will create case studies and stories of older disabled adults’ experiences of sport and physical activity and the associated health and lifestyle benefits.

Provision for both ageing and disabled populations is at the forefront of policy and practice in the UK and the methodology in this evaluation is vital as it recognises the necessity to embed inclusive and equitable active ageing agendas that are guided by the voices of the older individuals themselves.

Speaking about the project, Dr Jessica Francombe-Webb said: "We are delighted to have been selected to conduct this evaluation. Age UK have demonstrated a dedication to interdisciplinary physical activity interventions and the evaluation we will conduct similarly draws from the strengths of researchers in the departments for Health and Education."

Dr Rachel Arnold said: "I am really looking forward to working with Dr Francombe-Webb and our advisory panel on the Age UK Inspire and Include project. This evaluation will involve using mixed and innovative methods to contribute to the active ageing and disability research being conducted in the University."

Professor Ian Butler (Dean of the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences) said: "I am so pleased that we are able to contribute to the important work that Age UK is pioneering through ‘ Inspire and Include’. I hope that the evidence that will arise from the evaluation will inform policy and practice in this key area and help the voices of older, disabled adults not only to be heard but to be listened to."