Professor Selena Gray and Dr Afroditi Stathi, Directors of the Active Older People Health Integration Team (APPHLE HIT) give an update on their work in 2014-15.
Active People: Promoting Healthy Life Expectancy (APPHLE HIT) aims to increase the understanding of the role of physical activity and ‘getting out and about’ for the health and wellbeing of older people. In middle aged and older people, physical activity helps individuals maintain their physical and mental function and reduces their risk of disease, yet levels of activity generally are extremely low. Sedentary behaviour dramatically increases health risk in older people and disproportionately affects people with low socio-economic status.
We have established a steering group with links to key organisations, including LinkAge, RSVP West (Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme), Bristol Ageing Better, Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils, academics from the Universities of Bath, Bristol and UWE, and Public Health England.
Project ACE (Active, Connected Engaged), led by Afroditi at the University of Bath in collaboration with the Universities of Bristol and West of England, was highlighted as one of only two UK initiatives to be classified as a ‘promising practice’ by Public Health England. Their review of 952 initiatives identified what works for local physical inactivity interventions. ACE explores whether peer volunteering encourages older people to take part in physical and social activities. A low-cost and sustainable intervention, ACE has already been adopted by LinkAge in Bristol and we are working to bring it to more areas of the city.
We have submitted a grant application to look at an intervention to increase levels of physical activity in older people with mobility limitations. We have also examined patterns of physical activity in older people using the Bristol Quality of Life Survey, identifying significant variation in different parts of the city and in different populations.
We are collaborating with NIHR CLAHRC West and the Supporting Healthy Inclusive Neighbourhood Environments (SHINE) HIT on a systematic review looking at the evidence that changes in the built environment can impact on wellbeing and quality of life. We are also mapping physical activity services, giving opportunities to collect systematic data and to strengthen links between those working on physical activity in local authorities and those involved in planning, transport and green space management.