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Centre for Ageing Better

Reframing narratives on ageing

The Centre for Ageing Better (CFAB) aims to respond to the enormous change to the age profile of the UK’s population. CFAB is a charitable foundation, who influence change in policy and practice, informed by evidence and work with partners across England to improve employment, housing, and to combat ageism.

The Challenge

Savanta, together with Equally Ours, was commissioned by CFAB to explore public attitudes towards ageing and demographic change.

We aimed to identify the current narrative that dominates ageing, and subsequently explore ways in which these narratives might be shifted in a positive direction, in order to move away from any harmful stereotypes and provide new, realistic narratives for our longer lives.

Our approach

We set up a complex multi-audience and multi-method research design to gauge these perceptions.

The initial stage involved a literature review, in-depth interviews with stakeholders from relevant sectors, and a comprehensive discourse analysis of the language used around ageing in various different contexts, from policy to advertising.

Equally Ours led on the development of potential ways in which new frames and narratives might be introduced through messages that invoke existing shared values. These messages were then tested and developed via eight focus group discussions with members of the general public across the UK, and then finally tested in a quantitative survey of British adults.

Regression analysis was used to demonstrate the messages that were most likely to drive a more positive impression of ageing and demographic change.

The outcome

The project delivered a comprehensive view of the ageist narratives that are common in UK society, and a set of approaches which might be taken to reframe existing narratives through a multichannel communication campaign.

The research programme found practical solutions and strategies to counter harmful age stereotypes from participants’ own perspectives, changing their behaviour towards older people and attitudes towards ageing in the long term.

“The team were incredibly thoughtful, creative, and responsive to our needs in carrying out this important and complex piece of research.

Their results are helping us to support different sectors and organisations in communicating about ageing and older age”

The Centre for Ageing Better

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Policy development & evaluation | Public policy | Public Sector