‘Thanks to the generosity and support of the BSG in awarding me a bursary, I had the opportunity to participate [a paper presentation on my research] in the 48th BSG Annual Conference held at the University of Liverpool. The theme of the conference was ‘Resilience and Living Well in Local Communities’. And what a shining example of resilience Prof Kate Bennett BSG2019 Conference Director and the conference organising committee and team provided. The seamless re-location of the conference from the Guild of Students building, necessary due unforeseen circumstances, to the Central Teaching Hub was testament to the resilience and hard work of Prof Bennett and her team. 

The Central Teaching Hub buzzed with activity, for example, the informative presentation from NICA on the Voice programme, and the poster sessions. A focal point was the useful big screen detailing the Community Sessions: community groups from Liverpool and elsewhere shared their experiences with us, a wonderful addition to the conference. The ‘Happy Older People’ project was particularly inspiring and interesting to me, whereby adults in their 20’s and 30’s host activities such as writing groups and films clubs for their older community members. Intergenerational friendships seemingly abound in these community based shared activities. Among the other highlights for me were the SIG symposiums held on a broad range of interest areas. I attended the Creative Ageing SIG with Emily Bradfield (Chair) and the steering committee, where a lively and interesting session ensued.

An extensive programme of paper presentations guaranteed that we, the delegates, had a busy and interesting two days, attempting to attend as many presentations as possible on a broad range of topics. Of the many I attended, particularly inspiring was the symposium ‘Loneliness in Later Life: a Social Problem of Old Age, A Public Health issue or a Moral Panic’ which provided food for critical thought. An engaged and supportive audience made my paper presentation, titled ‘Escaping Discrediting Old Age: doing age through intergenerational friendship’ an enjoyable experience. The fascinating research by all of my fellow presenters, for example, Paul Willis and Alex Vickery who presented on their research on older men’s experiences of social isolation, ensured a lively and pleasant session.

Opportunities to network while taking in the sights of Liverpool were an enjoyable part of the conference for me, as I caught up with colleagues from Japan and the U.K. The University’s ‘Walking for Health Team’ guided a free lunch time walking tour. We set out from the Teaching Hub along the beautiful and historical surrounding cobbled streets and Georgian houses (often used by film makers) and by the two main Cathedrals. The conference dinner, relocated to the famous Liverpool Football Stadium, provided opportunities to network and have some fun. Gerontologists took to the dance floor to boogie to The Beatles tribute band. Who knew such dancing talent existed among the BSG members. A great night indeed.

Thank you to all at Liverpool University and to the BSG for an informative, enjoyable and memorable BSG2019 conference. I now look forward to attending the BSG2020 conference, hosted at the University of the West of England in Bristol’.

Author: Dr Catherine Elliott O’Dare, University College Dublin. Ireland.  August 2019 

Being unemployed/’semi-retired’ I was very pleased to receive a BSG Bursary to attend the 48th Annual Conference held at University of Liverpool, particularly as last year I was unable to take up my bursary due to extenuating circumstances.   I was also pleased that it was being held in Liverpool where I used to live for ten years, as it was a chance to reconnect with vibrancy of the city as well as friends.

The last minute venue changes were challenging for the organisation and management team who handled them very well particularly in relation to communicating with conference delegates.  As always the conference offered a fantastic variety of ways to hear about research, innovations, exchange views and ideas, and to network.  This included ERA network, special interest groups, symposia, keynote lectures, papers, poster session, sponsored events, exhibitions and community sessions.

My doctoral studies have focused on older women’s sexualities and therefore my interest in relation to making the hard choice of what to attend in such a conference tended to be guided by the issues around ageing, gender and sexuality.  It was therefore good to see Policy Press supporting a few publications in this field and in particular in their book launch of King A., Almack K. and Jones R.L. (2019) Intersections of Ageing, Gender and Sexualities – within their series ‘Ageing in a Global Context’.  Policy Press is also developing a new series called ‘Sex and Intimacy in Later Life’.

I was co-presenting a paper based on my research on ‘Researching older women’s sexuality’, which was one of three papers making up the symposium on ‘Contemporary research methods in ageing, reproduction and sexualities’.  Although the symposium was small the papers were well received and a thoughtful and engaging discussion took place until we had to vacate the room for the next session.  More details of the symposium can be accessed via Twitter (@mjt273, 11/7/19).  Unfortunately this symposium clashed with another one, which interested me on social inequalities and ageing masculinities.

I enjoyed the symposium on ageing, materiality and the body, which raised some challenging issues around dress, smiling, assistive technology and personal objects.  Also the paper given by Neal King on hegemonic masculinity provided a useful way of using the intersection of age and gender to look at the changes and transitions that older men face in terms of their masculinity.  Other papers focusing on ageing, gender and sexuality focused on LGBT older people and issues of marriage/civil partnerships, health issues and inequalities, and coupledom in later life.  The poster presentations were interesting and very varied as usual and one that particularly stayed with me for its positivity was ‘Learning tai chi in a care home for older adults’.  I particularly liked the way that it challenged the notion that physical activity per se was ‘good for you as you aged’ by taking a holistic perspective and arguing that there were important environmental and relational dimensions to the benefits of doing tai chi. A point that I feel could be transferred to all aspects of keeping fit through physical activity.

Overall I thought it was a great conference, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Author: Dr. Rhiannon Jones, August 2019 

This was my first year attending the BSG Annual Conference. Last year I attended the Emerging Researchers in Ageing pre-conference event, but was unable to attend the full conference – and so was delighted to receive a bursary to attend and present my poster; ‘Exploring the role of clothing and textiles in the lives of people with dementia’ this year.

The conference programme was filled with an array of wonderful speakers and it was difficult to choose which sessions to attend with the variety of papers and symposia on offer. I had a very busy few days attempting to attend as much as possible. My blog contribution highlights a few of the sessions I found most informative and enjoyable.

The poster session was a hive of activity, with presenters giving quick-fire synopses of their work. I found the quick-fire-style presentation particularly helpful when engaging with delegates about my work and learning about theirs. I am particularly interested in alternative ways of communicating academic research and findings, and was thrilled that the BSG encouraged and provided guidance on creative approaches to presenting posters. This resulted in a fantastic collection of eye-catching, informative posters. Congratulations to Nadine Mirza, who won the Stirling Prize for best student poster for her brilliant work ‘Barriers and solutions for recruiting and conducting dementia research with British ethnic minorities’ – and to those highly commended for their posters.

One of the many highlights of the conference for me was the range of sessions within the theme ‘The arts, leisure and consumption’. I found both the ‘Mentoring approaches to delivering creative arts in care home setting’ and the BSG Creative Ageing Special Interest Group Symposium ‘Developing successful partnerships within applied creative ageing research’ to be of particular interest. Both symposiums showcased collaborative, arts-based projects presented by a range of speakers (e.g. from academic, charity and arts organisations). There were many practical take-aways from the sessions, with presenters describing specific experiences, both positive and challenging, involved in their respective projects. As a PhD student, I find openness (e.g. practical considerations of projects) particularly helpful in terms of reflecting upon my current studies and when thinking about future projects.

Of particular interest and relevance to my PhD research was the ‘Ageing, Materiality and the Body’ symposium. I found it incredibly inspiring to hear from those established in the field. I also found some of the methods discussed (e.g. the use of objects within focus groups enabling participants to engage, handle and explore items) of great relevance to my studies. With regards to research methods, a further highlight for me was Emma Harding’s paper in which she discussed the use of focused ethnographic techniques when working with people living with dementia in their homes.

Along with the parallel paper and symposia sessions, drop-in lunch sessions were available. I attended the ‘How to get your paper published: A forum with the editors of Ageing & Society’. The tips and advice from the editors were particularly helpful, with delegates invited to become peer reviewers for the journal.

Finally, the informal networking opportunities during coffee and lunch breaks, and of course at the wonderful conference dinner (relocated to the Liverpool Football Stadium),were invaluable!

Thank you for the generosity of the BSG in awarding me a bursary. I thoroughly enjoyed my first BSG conference and very much look forward to BSG2020.

Author: Rebecka Fleetwood-Smith, PhD student, University of West London, August 2019.

I also would like to express my gratitude to the BSG for offering bursaries.  I am a self-funded student, therefore any financial aid especially to attend and present and network at such an important conference makes for an essential opportunity.

I presented some preliminary results of my PhD research on the integration of dementia service systems.  I learned that because my research was on Central American countries, it is not deemed relevant to many.  Yet integration of services is fundamental, and that attracts more attention.  So an important lesson was how to present my research to attract attention – title and abstract.  To this point, the poster sessions were inviting and busy, but to my dismay the two posters I was interested in were not present.

The other presentations in my session were exceptional.  In particular the LAUNCH project presentation introduced Appreciative Inquiry as a method of implementing innovative digital technologies for nurses in care homes, which motivated me to read up on it and propose it as a framework for evaluating a community project working with families with dementia (see photo1).  Additionally, the presenters offered an impressive handout, seeming a work of art, depicting the process of implementation step by step through pictures and words in a chronological map.  This too stimulated my interest in applying different manners of portraying impact, to facilitate understanding by all stakeholders.

One of the keynote presentations explored resilience, individual and social, how to measure it, and the subjective resilience indicators culminating in the balance between self and social responsibility.  What was most impressionable to me was the acknowledgment of governments’ hard push to self-care and care for family and friends and neighbours, in an attempt to create a void where social responsibility lies.

Two presentations dedicated to intimacy and sexuality of women and older adults in care homes were invaluable.  The presenters championed the impact of their research on both older women accepting and embracing their continued sexuality, and care staff recognizing their need for training on how to respect residents’ intimacy needs.  The basis began by defining sexuality.

For my second time, attending the BSG conference offered a sense of belonging to a group of like-minded individuals with the shared cause of maintaining a high quality of life as we age.  The learning I took away will feed into my work and my research, but also has affected my perspective on different topics I don’t specifically focus on, but will incorporate moving forward.

Echos of thanks to the University of Liverpool for a memorable conference venue, especially the dinner at the stadium!

Author:  Nereide Alhena Curreri, PhD Candidate, University of Stirling, August 2019.

 

Photo credits:  Nereide Alhena Curreri, PhD Candidate, University of Stirling, August 2019.

Like all the bursary recipients, I truly appreciated the chance to attend this year’s conference which the bursary made possible.  The Emerging Researchers pre-conference proved a vital opportunity to present our research to a supportive audience, and the poster presentation was well attended with added time to present to our fellow poster presenters.

Of special interest to me were presentations which underscored some of the issues encountered in my research on decision-making with people aged 85 and above.  The difficulty of finding toilets was raised in the Paper 8 presentation on the availability of toilets when travelling.  Casting access to “clean, usable, appropriate and safe toilet facilities” as a basic human right transforms the conversation from an embarrassing inconvenience to an important human rights issue.  This project used co-researchers who used photographs and research diaries to document accessibility challenges in transport facilities.  Lack of toilets limits participation, not just in travel, but all aspects of community life.

The Averil Osborn Award supports studies which involve older people in all stages of the research.  This year’s Symposium featured presentations by participants in the Urban Villages project guiding a co-participatory project in two Manchester neighbourhoods, the Ransackers Association which considered the challenges and opportunities in the collaboration process, and the winner of the 2019 Award, the team from Whiteley Village, which investigated the results of dementia training at the Whiteley Village retirement community.  All participants spoke of the challenges of balancing power equalities amongst the participants, implementing academic standards given often limited time for training process, issues of confidentiality, the importance of building reflection into the process and managing expectations both in terms of research roles and impact outcomes.

Finally, Symposium 20 on the three-year CoMotion Qualitative Longitudinal Research (QLR) project explored the impact of major later life transitions on mobility and well-being.  The project raised a number of issues involved with QLR:  negotiating consent and anonymity over a long term project, maintaining and ending long term research relationships, and situational ethics, e.g. not asking a question because it might be invasive, thus causing harm to the participant.  Issues of emotion and vulnerability were explored, as concerned both the participant and researcher, with the comforting guidance of “doing what feels right.”

Perhaps the greatest outcome of the Conference for me was that I now understand the format of paper presentations and look forward to attempting to present on my research at a future BSG Conference.

Heather Mulkey, PhD Candidate, Gerontology, University of Southampton, August 2019