Thoughts on a new report which identifies experiences of older people during the pandemic

A new report based on research conducted by Manchester Urban Ageing Research Group has identified experiences of older people living in areas of multiple deprivation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here, Pauline Smith, who lives in Manchester, explains some of the key findings from the study, as well as sharing some of her own thoughts and questions on the project. 

Older people in Greater Manchester spent 80% of their time at home or in their immediate neighbourhood during the lockdown.

During the 18 months of Covid-19, there were three lockdowns in Greater Manchester. How did this affect older vulnerable people, those living in the African Caribbean, South Asian, White and LGBT+ communities?

The University of Manchester’s Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) have revealed the challenges faced during the coronavirus pandemic by people aged 50 plus, especially those living in deprived areas, after they conducted an in-depth study.

Their findings and key conclusions were presented on Zoom on Monday 12th July. Almost 170 attended the Zoom meeting and watched the keynote speech by Andy Burnham; the main findings of the MICRA research were presented by Professor C Phillipson and several pertinent questions were answered by a panel of experts.

102 older people and 20 organisations were interviewed 3 times during the Covid 19 lockdowns; 48 were South Asians, 39 were white and 15 African Caribbean and some of these were LGBT+.

All those interviewed lived across the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester. The gender split of the 102 was 50:50 female and male.

Key Findings

  • Audit by GM Ageing Hub to assess resources needed
  • Support community development to improve the effects of austerity and three lockdowns
  • Promote community participation through:

1. consolidating mutual aid groups

2. strengthen organisations supporting ageing already in place

3. support informal leaders within communities

4. expanding the range of community meeting places

  • Recruit community advocates:

1. Covid has exposed longer waiting lists and dangers for isolated people

2. Advocates be drawn from existing age-friendly groups

  • Keep older people involved

Some Key Questions from older people

  • Will it actually make any difference?
  • It’s one of many reviews/analyses/ programmes done over many years
  • Lots of promises – will it happen?
  • Lots of “wariness and weariness”

My own personal views on this report as a 70+ member of the LGBT+ community who lives alone is that it shows the trials and tribulations of older people from vulnerable communities who have gone through 18 months of lockdown and loneliness.

And it shows that one of the keys to resolving these core issues for older people – out of 2.8 million people in Greater Manchester 1 million are over 50 – is funding to provide the tools for communities to provide more green spaces, better digital support and more community hubs.

Central government telling communities what to do with no involvement by communities needs to be replaced by a community centred approach. I was one of those who took part in the interview programme and my summary points above about the study are some of the extractions I made whilst watching the 90-minute Zoom presentation.

Having read the summary report and the full report of 108 pages I realise that the quality of the in-depth research is reflected by the professionalism of the team at MICRA, and I want to thank the team for their kindness and support during the interview process.

Access the report summary here. What do you make of the findings? 

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