Your Priorities is an annual research project that Age UK London conducts in order to increase understanding of the day-to-day issues affecting older people in the capital. By framing the research around eleven distinct issues and seeking the feedback of older Londoners themselves to evaluate their experiences in relation to these issues, Your Priorities really takes into account the cumulative voice of older people in London and contributes towards the knowledge base that Age UK London uses in informing campaigning and programme activities.
This year, nearly 300 participants provided their anonymous feedback on issues ranging from ‘transport’ to ‘condition of neighbourhoods’ and ‘computer access’ to ‘housing’, each providing an assessment of relative happiness with these areas and giving further explanatory details to explain this assessment. Participants also provided anonymous demographics information that enabled comparative analysis of responses across a range of equality characteristics.
The full paper will be used internally to contribute towards future action-planning and decision-making but a small selection of the findings from the research are as follows:
1) There was considerable concern reported across all demographic criteria in relation to ‘condition and tidiness of neighbourhoods’. This was the worst-scoring category by all ranking methods with common issues of fly-tipping, dispersal of uncollected rubbish and poor condition of pavements and roads all being frequently mentioned. Happiness with this issue has deteriorated in time with cuts to public services and has implications moving forward as purse-strings continue to tighten.
2) Across most of the categories referred to, it is the youngest (55-64) pre-retirement age-cohort who reported the lowest levels of happiness across a number of different issues. Interestingly, this was evident in relation to perceptions of ‘attitudes and behaviour to older people’ and ‘diet and fitness’ despite them being the youngest of our respondents. It would be interesting to look further into whether there is a broader psycho-social element here in relation to attitudes to ageing.
3) Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were notable differences in reported ‘access to and ability to use computers and the internet’ when analysed by age. Whilst this trend is changing year-on-year, the 85+ age-range still report far higher levels of unhappiness in relation to this area. This has clear implications in relation to the ‘digital by default’ trend that pervades many areas of daily life and risks disadvantaging large groups of older people.
4) Concerns in relation to Health & Social Care were remarkably consistent and it is concerning that, with an ageing population, the current situation in relation to getting appointments has been so negatively-reported upon. Long waiting lists and lengthy delays in getting appointments point to an inadequacy in terms of staffing and meeting demand. With an ageing population with potentially a greater demand of health and social care support requirements over time, there is a risk that this problem is only going to become ever more manifest.
Age UK London would like to thank everyone who participated in this Your Priorities study either by directly providing a response or by raising awareness of the project within their organisations’ memberships.