Two Lancaster University professors were the speakers at a dinner at the House of Commons on Monday to inform and shape Government policy on the UK’s ageing society.
Director of the International Observatory on End of Life Care Professor Sheila Payne and Director of the Lancaster University Centre for Ageing Research Professor Christine Milligan addressed members from the House of Lords, the House of Commons and representatives from key advisory groups at the private event.
The dinner and subsequent discussion, entitled 'From Little Steps to Giant Leaps – Healthy Ageing and an Ageing Society’ was organised by the Industry and Parliament Trust who invited the two professors to address the evening and chaired by Health Select Committee member and West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper.
Professor Payne spoke about the role of family care-givers and end of life care for older people, drawing on her recent research at the Observatory.
Professor Milligan spoke about her recent research around older men who undertake care-giving and gender-based social activities designed to alleviate loneliness and social isolation and improve the health and wellbeing of older men.
The dinner presented an opportunity to explore how Government and business might work together to provide solutions to potential problems linked to a society which is living longer.
“People in nearly every part of the UK are living longer but their chances of spending these later years in good health and well-being vary depending on socio-economic status and where in the country they live,” said Professor Payne.
“This was a great opportunity to advise key policy makers, industry and service providers on the seriousness of the current situation and to be part of a vehicle looking for solutions. We were very well received with healthy cross-party and industry discussion.”
“Many will enjoy a healthy and active life in early old age, but ageing can also bring a high risk of social isolation and poverty, with limited access to affordable, high-quality health and social services particularly for our oldest old,” said Professor Milligan. “Strong public policies are needed to ensure that positive trends can be sustained and the benefits of a longer life can extend to everyone regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic group.”
The guest list at the dinner included: Lord Best, the chair of the Housing and Care for Older People All-Party Group, Baroness Greengross, the chair of the Ageing and Older People All-Party Group, the British Property Federation, Serco Health and BP.