Department of Social & Policy Sciences

CDAS to lead GW4 research initiative, 'Dying well after a long life'

Wed Sep 24 10:40:00 BST 2014

The Centre for Death & Society (CDAS) have been awarded a GW4 Initiator grant to develop links with researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter on the topic of, ‘Dying well after a long life’.

The most common age at death in England and Wales in 2010 was 85 for men and 89 for women; the number of older people dying will increase in the next 30 years as the ‘baby boomers’ enter their 80’s. 

Government rhetoric talks about ‘successful ageing’ and promoting independence, a rhetoric embraced by fit third agers. However, this neglects many older people struggling each day with deteriorating physical and mental capacities. The assumption of the Department of Health’s End of Life Care strategy is of the autonomous individual freely choosing how to live out a fairly predictable end of life period, but this is problematic for many elderly people with unclear dependency trajectories and/or less than full mental capacity. 

Radically new thinking is required to drive innovative research that can inform philosophy, policy and practice, not only for the frail elderly, but for anyone with high dependency and mental incapacity who cannot die as free and active agents. This initiative seeks to identify clear areas for research, bring together experts across the South West with the ideas and capacity to develop them further, with a view to developing a sustainable network putting forward large funding bids in the next eighteen months/two years. 

GW4 brings together the South West and Wales’ four leading, research-intensive universities. Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter Universities are collaborating through their research to address the key global challenges for the benefit of society and the economy.