Whiteley Foundation

The Whiteley Foundation for Ageing Well

Living Longer, Ageing Well

It is wonderful that people are living ever longer, but it is tragic that so many people do not live well as they age. How could we ensure everybody can make the most of the last chapter of their lives? Every year the number of older people living Britain increases; we cannot ignore this question for long.

The Whiteley Foundation for Ageing Well builds on our century of experience, to understand what it means to live well in later life, and how best to help people do so. The Foundation will search widely for innovative practice, join with Villagers to test the best ideas, and share our learning freely.

Most research about ageing focuses on health and care. Yet that is only one aspect of ageing, ignoring everyday life. How do people’s preferences and priorities change as they age? What does it mean to enjoy the added years of life to the full? What choices are most important to older people? What do they value most from people who want to help them? What makes them feel valued in society?

These issues affect everyone simply because they are getting older. Businesses, charities, and public services all need better insights if they are to be effective in helping older people live well as they age.

The charitable objectives of the Trust are to house and support older people of limited means, but the Foundation will address issues affecting all people as they age, irrespective of their wealth, or where they live. It will be a free-standing body hosted by the Whiteley Homes Trust, with an optimistic approach to living well in later life.

We have made a substantial start. In February 2017, we published ground-breaking research into longevity at Whiteley undertaken by the Cass Business School, sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Actuaries Charitable Trust. It showed that older people of limited means, on average, live longer than they would have done outside Whiteley Village.

We have already worked with the University of Surrey on research into ethical decision-making in social care, the impact of change on elderly residents, training for nurses, and research about using technology to support care. We are in discussions about other joint projects, including training for doctors.

We have produced a volume of thought-provoking ideas about ageing well to initiate further work for the Foundation and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Villager moving to Whiteley (October 1917). It contains contributions from innovative thinkers and practitioners in different fields: understanding well-being, genetics, future housing, health and medicine, intimacy and sex, technology to support independence, work, and psychology. HRH The Prince of Wales has written the foreword.

We will organise events to discuss the issues raised in the publication. They will explore how to grasp the opportunities and tackle the challenges that our ageing society faces.

In initial discussions with potential partners and sponsors, the concept of the Foundation generates great enthusiasm. We are grateful for the funding for the inaugural volume of ideas (from the Pargiter Trust, the Wates Family Enterprise Trust and an anonymous benefactor) and for a post to help us develop the work of the Foundation (from the Worshipful Company of Drapers). Dr Alison Armstrong has been appointed the Director of the Foundation.

We are looking to have further discussions with potential partners and supporters for the longer term.

For more information or to support the Foundation, please email Peter Wilkinson, the Chair of the Whiteley Homes Trust or Dr Alison Armstrong, Director of the Whiteley Foundation: foundation@whiteleyvillage.org.uk