Edinburgh Research Explorer

Repositioning risk and resilience - a catalyst for change in the protection and enablement of younger and older people

Project: University Awarded Project Funding

Description

Research, policy and practice with older people and children and young people have rarely shared the same academic and professional stage and have consequently developed as quite independent fields. However they do share some common features, not least when people, irrespective of age, are perceived to be ‘at risk’. Perception of being ‘at risk’ arises from assessment of a vulnerability in either the individual and / or their psycho-social and environmental circumstances. This impacts perceptions of their welfare, decision making and ability to maintain or achieve independence. To be perceived to be vulnerable and at risk (whether by the individual, professional services, family or members of the public) can result in profound consequences including relocation into care (e.g. a care home or foster care) and the protection of social services – it results in heightened surveillance, restriction (or liberation) of freedoms, and potentially alterations to a physical and social / family environment. Being identified as carrying specific vulnerabilities in terms of the individual’s mental health and well-being, irrespective of age, significantly impacts negatively on key developmental transitions and opportunities. Whilst there is a substantial track-record of investigation into developing resilience in children and young people, applying concepts of resilience to older people, especially those with mental health needs, is in its infancy and much contested. Likewise, the research into risk management in older age has received little application to date in the field of children and young people. The role of protection by the wider society can both enable and disable the individual yet is used at times as an uncontested societal mandate. Through this proposed programme of international development, we intend to refine a new generation of theoretically grounded socially-embedded understandings of living and working with risk to enhance resilience.

Layman's description

This project aims to advance understandings of risk and resilience in relation to different client groups - specifically vulnerable younger people and older people.