Professor Selena Gray and Dr Afroditi Stathi, Directors of the Active Older People Health Integration Team give an update on their work in 2016-2017.
The Active People: Promoting Healthy Life Expectancy (APPHLE) HIT aims to improve activity and health in later life. In middle-aged and older people, physical activity helps maintain physical and mental function and reduces risk disease.
The REACT study (REtirement into ACTion) is a five-year multicentre trial led by Afroditi and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for £1.64 million. It targets people over 65 who are starting to find everyday activities difficult. The study has now recruited more than half of the 800 participants into a 12-month physical activity and social programme, aimed at testing whether a decline in mobility and physical function can be slowed, stopped or even reversed.
The ACE project (Active, Connected, Engaged) showed the physical and mental wellbeing of people at risk of social isolation can be improved through increased community involvement. Older people often cite a lack of motivation and the absence of friends or family to go with as barriers to getting out and about. The team have secured a £55k two-year grant from LinkAge to scale up ACE in Bristol. The team will work with St Monica Trust on this project. Bristol Health Partners is also funding the team to extend and evaluate the programme roll-out in Hartcliffe.
In 2016 South Gloucestershire Council ran a pilot project to support people aged up to 75 at high risk of developing type-2 diabetes, funded by the Health Education England Innovation Fund. Participants attend a six-week self-management course to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence to make lifestyle changes. As a result, they increased their levels of physical activity by an average of 232 minutes a week over the six-month period. The number of participants meeting physical activity guidelines increased from 16 to 30 per cent. South Gloucestershire was successful in its bid to be part of the second wave of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme which started in April 2017.
The team delivered a session on physical activity and older people as part of Healthy City Week Bristol in October 2017, showcasing their projects to a diverse audience of professionals and public contributors.
Selena was also part of a project team, led by Dr Paul Pilkington at the University of the West of England, to develop a Healthy People Healthy Places evidence tool for Public Health England. It was launched in April 2017.
And in May 2017, Afroditi gave a six minute presentation on her research at the university's annual Engage: Public engagement in practice event, which won her the University of Bath's Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Award.