Understanding the lives of older people living with frailty

Age UK wanted to understand frailty from the perspective of those who could be described as frail. They commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct an ethnographic and qualitative project combining hours of filming and interviewing older people in their homes and out and about.

The word ‘frail is used in different ways – as a medical term by clinicians, as an adjective by friends and family and, for too many people, as a judgement. As such it can be used to characterise an older person’s circumstances, capacities and needs without properly acknowledging the person behind the term.

Age UK wanted to understand frailty from the perspective of those who could be described as frail.  They commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct ethnographic and qualitative research which combined hours of observation and interviewing both in home and out and about understand the day-to-day life experiences of older people living with frailty.

Thematic videos The following five thematic films explore the everyday experiences of older people who could be described as frail. Each film reflects a theme explored in a different chapter of the report.

  • Acknowledging frailty
  • Independence and control
  • Support and assets
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Adapting to life changes 

Acknowledging Frailty from Ipsos ECE on Vimeo.

Independence & Control from Ipsos ECE on Vimeo.

Support and Assets from Ipsos ECE on Vimeo.

Loneliness and Isolation from Ipsos ECE on Vimeo.

Adapting to Life Changes from Ipsos ECE on Vimeo.

Technical details Ipsos MORI conducted five filmed ethnographic interviews with older people who could be described as frail. All interviews were filmed using a small hand-held camera as a means of capturing data about what people were doing as well as what people are telling the project team. In addition to field notes, this resulted in a wealth of data (25 hours of film) for analysis. To widen the research Ipsos MORI conducted discovery visits in three day centres involving informal discussion groups and depth interviews to follow up on some of the themes coming out of the ethnography. Finally, Ipsos MORI conducted a further five follow-up depth interviews with participants attending the day centres to provide more detail and create additional case studies.

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