Active Ageing Programme

There are 849,062 over 50's in GM and they are twice as likely to be inactive than a 16 – 34 year old. By the time they are 75 they are 3 x more likely to be inactive.

The Greater Manchester Active Ageing Programme has been running since April 2018 and will run until March 2020. It aims to increase activity amongst older adults in Greater Manchester.

The programme is a series of eight pilots, each in a different locality, that uses common principles to address the local strategic needs. In order to achieve this, the programme has been developed in line with the transformational principles of Greater Manchester Moving and in support of the Age-Friendly community approaches. The programme’s approach involves creating small test-beds and working to scale up effective approaches.

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Core Principles

Embedding physical activity in whole system community approaches that support improved outcomes for older adults

Holding person-centred, strength based conversations with older people to understand their lives in their community and understand the opportunity for increased activity to improve their lives

Involvement of inactive older people from the target audience in the design of solutions

Applying evidence based approaches to engaging older adults in physical activity and using behaviour change theory to support this work

Linking physical activity for older adults to local models of social prescribing across GM where relevant

There are several cross-cutting themes which include:

  • Peer support and use of community champions to support target groups to move out of inactivity
  • Use of positive images and language to change the narrative and promote a new positive vision of ageing
  • Using the principles of co-production and strength-based conversations with older people to encourage more active lifestyles among inactive people aged 55 and over

Overall, the programme will work with over 4,500 older adults who will hopefully experience some of the benefits of being physically active:

  • Lower risk of developing a long term health condition
  • Reduced risk of mental illness/cognitive decline
  • Help maintain ability to carry out the tasks of daily living
  • Reduced risk of falls
  • Improved mood and self-esteem

The University of Manchester, the evaluation partner, will work with Greater Manchester partners to understand this in more detail and work up recommendations for transferability.

Progress to date

There are a number of different approaches being tested which will provide rich learning in terms of the process. Some of examples of these are:

  • Bolton - Small investment pots for social entrepreneurs/organisations/individuals to try to tackle inactivity based of the research gathered by the behavioural insight team commissioned by Age UK Bolton.
  • Bury - Universal offer focused on primary prevention supporting and underpinning an existing therapeutic offer, targeting those who are inactive or living with one of more long term health condition.
  • Manchester - Place based pilot focused on greenspace and community assets in surrounding residential areas. Also working across four existing age-friendly Manchester social groups to add peer led physical activity to existing sedentary groups.
  • Rochdale - Engaging hidden carers and supporting them into physical activity. Volunteer peer champions will support behaviour change.
  • Salford - Small investment pot opportunities for older adults in Swinton to provide access to existing activity offers to help develop and establish new tailored activities where the demand is identified.
  • Stockport - Targeting 65+ inactive older adults who have experienced a life event impacting on wellbeing and independence or those at risk of decline in their independence and wellbeing. Stockport are utilising partners and infrastructure through the Together Stockport System to better connect and support older adults to existing provision. They are also working with older adults to co-design and improve service design and delivery.
  • Tameside - Targeting older adults aged 55-64 in areas of high deprivation and inactivity. Tameside are testing asset based approaches, appreciative enquiry and co-design to help stimulate older adults in these areas to become active. Extensive primary research has been conducted to underpin and inform the development of opportunities for older adults.
  • Trafford - Trafford have commissioned a market research agency to pull together research to inform planning for community based provision. Trafford plan to work with primary care, exercise referral pathways and wider community provision and align with social prescribing models to increase uptake of supported exercise opportunities.

Barbara's Story

Following retirement, Barbara found herself struggling physically, mentally and socially, to the extent that she was in severe pain physically and struggled to talk. After being convinced to join a walking group with Trafford's Walking for Health programme, all aspects of Barbara's life began to improve, with her family all noticing the change in her.


Gordon's Story

Gordon has been married to his wife for 55 years and after having to make the difficult decision to move her to a care home, increased his walking and completed a half marathon all at the age of 83. Through attending Link4Life's walking sessions, the social aspect has helped take his mind off the struggles of dealing with his wife’s dementia, releasing endorphins and reducing stress. Gordon has inspired many others at Vets in the Community and the Walking Group to do more exercise.

Learn more about Gordon's story here