Beyond tokenistic involvement of older people in research – a framework for future development and understanding

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Research and development work in health and social care are increasingly required to involve users at all stages of the research process yet there is scant empirical evidence to support the justification of this laudable aim. Evidence does suggest that at present efforts to achieve this are primarily tokenistic and that more work is needed, both to examine what user involvement in research activity actually means, and how this can best be supported. This paper sets out to describe developments to support involvement of older people through work at the Royal Bank of Scotland Centre for the Older Person's Agenda and to identify a number of challenges that this has raised for researchers. These challenges have arisen out of a number of assumptions that underpin the process of user involvement. The paper discusses some of the benefits of working in partnership with older people and identifies strategic issues for consideration in order to promote future partnership working.

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