1 August 2017

Transitions in Later Life learning community: July 2017

The Transitions in Later Life (TiLL) learning community brings together organisations which test group-based interventions that focus on building emotional wellbeing and resilience. It meets three times a year to share insights, best practice and to develop new approaches together.

Our fifth meeting took place in July 2017. Having piloted projects in 2016, some of the organisations in the community were entering a second year of delivery. Building on what they had learnt from the pilots, these organisations were working with employers, providers and community organisations to spread this approach more widely.  The group was keen to discuss the pilot project evaluations and learn more about the ‘River of Life’…

Sharing practice: The River of Life

Ciaran and Brian of Age & Opportunity took the community through an exercise that they use in their course, the ‘River of Life’. This tool is about mapping life events and understanding how to draw on ‘wells of resilience’. We took time to map periods of personal transition (such as moving to a new city or leaving a job), reflect on their meaning, and look at how they linked to theories of transition. We found it incredibly valuable to share tools in this way and were keen to do more of this in future.

Demonstrations and experiential sessions were incredibly insightful – good to have a feeling of positivity and to understand the difference between projects.

Jen Morgan of the Psychosynthesis Trust helped us focus on our collective approach to change. Jen explained her approach:

  • Develop new narratives through scenario planning, visioning, story-telling
  • Identify people in positions of power who can shape and influence and amplify the narrative, finding cracks in the regime
  • Connect up, resource and convene the niches to influence the regime and the landscape

The TiLL cohort are testing and development new approaches to supporting people in their transitions in later life. In a model of systemic change the group is therefore developing ‘niches’ with the ambition of helping to influence the ageing landscape. 

As a group we reflected on the causes behind the negative perceptions of ageing, that had stopped these ideas being mainstream in the past.

We felt energised by discussing the potential to change negative narratives and norms through demonstrating best practice.

Pilot projects evaluation

As a group, we discussed the evaluation for the seven pilot projects in phase one of the TiLL programme in Autumn 2017  The evaluation found that participants felt better equipped and more confident to deal with change and future challenges. Six to 12 months after courses ended, participants still reported a much more positive outlook to later life.

The group discussed ‘hidden’ impacts; those that may not be immediately obvious or visible, or even known to the participants that they act upon. The evaluation also revealed operational lessons, for instance highlighting that facilitators must be flexible in their delivery of curriculum.