Continuity of Older Citizen's Involvement in the Whole Policy Process: A Review of Practices

Funded by: Better Government for Older People


April 2004 to May 2005

PSI researchers:

Sandra Vegeris

Karen Mackinnon

Background, summary and aims

This study is being jointly conducted by PSI and Better Government for Older People (BGOP). It addresses the growing policy area of public engagement with public policy and services. Involvement with older citizens takes many forms and can be broadly classified along a passive-active continuum. Focusing on one end of the continuum, this study seeks to highlight initiatives that demonstrate ongoing active engagement with older citizens as judged from multiple stakeholder perspectives.

The study aims to:

  • Scope the range of 'whole policy' participation in local government-older citizen partnerships;
  • Identify gaps in partnership building;
  • Identify older people's and local authorities' perspectives on enabling factors and barriers for building continuous partnerships;
  • Identify participatory models in the context of local demographic profiles;
  • Develop guidelines for future 'whole policy' approaches to local government-older people partnerships.

Research Design
The study consists of three phases of fieldwork:

  • A survey of local authorities to provide an overview on the status of older citizen involvement in local area policy and initiatives;
  • Case studies of local authorities that have developed innovative models for partnering with older citizens in the community, towards developing and delivering policy. These will include depth interviews with older citizen participants and local government staff and their partners;
  • Local area workshops in which initial findings from the research will be critically discussed with older citizens who have been involved with policy processes and with policy stakeholders.

Policy Relevance
The study will contribute to the understanding of practice towards active, inclusive and ongoing engagement with older citizens. Although there is heightened awareness of the need for governments to engage with older citizens when formulating and delivering its policies and services, there is a gap in the knowledge of effective models for active engagement. This awareness has been recently stimulated by the National Service Framework for Older People; the Seven Shared Priorities of central and local governments which include improving the 'quality of life' for older people and; the Audit Commission's new Comprehensive Performance Assessment that includes older citizen engagement as one of the evaluation criteria.