A new study aimed at improving mobility in older adults is being launched in Stoke-on-Trent, led by scientists at the University of Birmingham.
Researchers are looking for 200 people over 65 years old in Stoke to take part. The study is designed for older adults who are starting to find everyday activities such as getting up from a chair, climbing the stairs and walking to the shops harder than it used to be. If that sounds like you, a family member or friend, they would love you to get in touch.
Chief Investigator, Professor Afroditi Stathi, said: "As people get older, everyday activities, like walking and climbing the stairs, can become more difficult. The Covid-19 pandemic has made this issue even worse as many people haven’t been able to get out and about as much as normal and so have become less mobile and active. This deconditioning can affect people’s ability to live independently and makes life a lot less enjoyable. Contrary to the common belief that physical decline is inevitable in later life, we have strong evidence from our studies that it is possible to delay this physical decline, or even reverse it, by keeping active. But we know becoming more active is a lot easier said than done for many people."
Called ACE (Active, Connected and Engaged), the study is being carried out in collaboration with the Universities of Manchester, Cardiff Metropolitan, Cardiff, Exeter, the Royal Voluntary Service and Sport Cardiff. Its aim is to pair people 65 and above with a volunteer buddy, themselves 55+ years, for six months. The pair will choose some local activities to try out together over the first three months. It could be an exercise class, dancing, a choir or just a local walk. Over the following three months, the volunteer will support the participant to continue these activities independently, through phone calls and further face to face support.
The ACE study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, will see whether the volunteer buddy scheme will support people in getting out and about and so being more active and help them increase their mobility and maintain it for longer.
The ACE team will follow up with people who are taking part after 6, 12 and 18 months, to find out how successfully they have been in maintaining their new levels of activity allowing them to live independently and to get the most out of life.
Professor Stathi added: "An older person who remains mobile and active is more likely to stay healthy – both mentally and physically – and to enjoy their independence and a higher quality of life for longer. We have already had positive results from testing this buddy scheme on a small scale. Now, it is the time to get some definitive answers about how well the ACE programme supports older people, with mobility limitations, to increase and maintain they physical function and independence."
ACE volunteers will be managed through the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), a UK-wide volunteering organisation. The study will take place in three areas: Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester and Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. If the programme is shown to be effective, it will be rolled out nationally.
- For media enquiries please contact Beck Lockwood, Press Office, University of Birmingham, tel: +44 (0)781 3343348.
- The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
- The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
The mission of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by:
- Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care;
- Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services;
- Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research;
- Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges;
- Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system;
- Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries.
NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low and middle income countries is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government.
This work uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support and would not have been possible without access to this data. The NIHR recognises and values the role of patient data, securely accessed and stored, both in underpinning and leading to improvements in research and care.