The Thomas Pocklington Trust approached UCL with a proposal to fund a study of the housing, support and care needs of people aged 55 and older with a visual impairment living in different settings.
This work was seen as important both for the development of Pocklington’s own portfolio of housing and services and also as a way of raising awareness among housing and service providers and within society at large about the needs of this hitherto much neglected group. Thus, it was envisaged from the outset that the study would be user-centred. Its purpose was to clarify the needs and expectations of older VIPs by consulting them directly, so that current and emerging policies for housing, support and care could be evaluated with the specific needs and requirements of older VIPs in mind.
The research developed through a partnership between UCL/The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies through it expertise in the analysis of housing in relation to people’s lifestyles and aspirations, and the University of Bristol with its expertise in social policy and practice in relation to older people’s issues. Thus the team comprised Professor Julienne Hanson and Reem Zako from UCL, and Professor Malcolm Johnson and Dr. John Percival from Bristol. The contractual agreement was reached at the end of February, and the project commenced on March 8th 2001 for the duration of eighteen months.
The research had two principal components:
- A large-scale study comprising four hundred detailed interviews spread over the eighteen month period, among older VIPs living in a wide range of circumstances in three representative regions of the UK where Pocklington currently is based, Birmingham, Plymouth and London.
- A smaller scale study of detailed and in-depth interviews driven by a Topic List with seventy-five of the visually impaired respondents.
The research team developed and utilised an innovative methodology within this project by recruiting and training older people from within the three localities of the study to conduct the questionnaire-based interviews. On the other hand, the experienced research team conducted the in-depth interviews.