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Trinity College Dublin

Research Projects

While our research is diverse, most of it can be grouped under three broad headings:

Participation and inclusion of older people. Research in this area includes participatory action research with the view to improving service delivery to community-dwelling older people; analysis of advocacy in long-stay care settings; social engagement and networks of older adults; doctoral research on participation in hospital discharge; doctoral research on the subjective experience of dementia.

Long-term care: institutional and community approaches. Research in this area includes analysis of domiciliary care policies and cash-for-care programmes in several developed countries; study of the social and nutritional aspects of community meals provision and utilisation; doctoral research on intermediate care solutions; doctoral research on policy discourse surrounding ageing-related care.

Older adults interacting with other age and population groups: Research in this area includes contributions of older adults in areas such as childcare and voluntary work (drawing on data from the Irish longitudinal study on ageing and other sources); study of migrant workers in the elder care sectors.

(These projects were carried out by staff members. For PhD projects, please see Postgraduate Research Students page)

Current Projects

TILDA - Social care and engagement of older adults in Ireland

Outline: See

Changing Generations - Towards a new national dialogue on intergenerational solidarity and justice in Ireland

Outline: The Social Policy and Ageing Research Centre (SPARC), in the School of Social Work and Social Policy of Trinity College Dublin and Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG), as part of the Lifecourse Institute, at NUI Galway are collaborating on a research project to explore intergenerational solidarity and justice in Ireland. By this we mean how people of different generations in Ireland live together, help each other and depend on one another in their daily lives, and how they perceive the social policies that support individuals at different stages of the life course. Examples include making provision to meet costs of health care, pensions and social welfare, and family members or neighbours of different ages helping each other out with everyday tasks.

Understanding how people think about and practice intergenerational solidarity at individual and societal levels will instigate a new national dialogue on intergenerational justice in Ireland.
For more information please visit

Completed Projects


'A Total Indifference to our Dignity - Older people's understandings of elder abuse'

Outline of Study:
Despite extensive research on elder abuse, very few studies have considered the perceptions of service users. Studies that do exist show the complex dynamics that exist within abusive families and offer some indicators as to the most appropriate response. A World Health Organisation study (WHO/INPEA 2002) conducted focus groups in eight different countries to ascertain the views of older people on elder abuse. While some differences were noted between groups they all emphasised the devaluing of older people in families and communities. Physical and sexual abuse were rarely discussed but the erosion of rights, choice, dignity and respect were common themes.

Living Independently at Home: Reforms in Organisation and Governance of European Home Care for Elderly and Disabled People

The project analysed how 9 European countries have reformed their home help systems, by identifying the drivers of changes and responses in the organisation, provision, regulation and quality of home care/help. Hypotheses were that cross-national variation in reforms in home care policies 1) influence the involvement of different care sectors and the use of services vs. cash benefits, 2) shape the degree of formalisation/informalisation and the degree of professionalization, and 3) contribute to the quality of care.

A discussion paper on theories of ageing and approaches to welfare in Ireland, North and South

The overall aim of this project was to prepare a discussion paper on theories of ageing and approaches to welfare in Ireland, North and South, consisting of: (1) an overview of the most relevant theories of ageing; (2) an analysis of the construction of ageing in Ireland, North and South; and (3) an analysis of approaches to welfare in Ireland, North and South. The resulting paper is intended to encourage discussion amongst key stakeholders on the evidence base required for developing appropriate policy and services for the ageing population in Ireland, North and South.

Background information to paper
Link to Report

Grandparents' role in divorced and separated families in Ireland

Divorce and separation impact upon relationships within nuclear and extended families, including relationships between grandparents, the divorced/separated couple and grandchildren. This study sought to acquire a better understanding of how these inter-generational relationships are affected following divorce/separation.


Service needs and access to services among older community-dwelling people: a participatory research project

Outline: This project (January 2007 - September 2007) examined service needs and utilisation among older people in the parish of Marino and Fairview in Dublin. It provided an overview of the current levels of provision of supportive services for older people and made recommendations for better co-ordination of services at a local level.

MILES: Migrant Labour in the Elder Care Sectors

Outline: MILES is a pan-European network of researchers , established with the view to carrying out comparative investigations of the extent, nature, causes and ramifications of increasing numbers of migrant workers employed in the elder care sector. The network is funded by NORFACE for a period of 3 years.

Advocacy and patient participation in long-stay care settings

Outline: This was a case study of the process of setting up and running an advocacy group for a group of older persons in a long-stay care setting in Dublin. All group meetings were observed by researchers and proceedings audio-taped. All group participants were individually interviewed at baseline and 6 months after the establishment of the group.

Social aspects of nutrition: an investigation of meals-on-wheels and community meals provision and use in Ireland

Outline: The meals-on-wheels service is central to the promotion of community and domiciliary care for older persons, and has considerable potential to impact positively on the service recipients' health, social interaction and general well-being. The lack of a comprehensive study of the MOW service in Ireland is a major gap in our knowledge of the older population.

No Place Like Home: Domiciliary Care Services for Older People in Ireland

Outline: This project (September 2005-August 2006) analysed the causes and consequences of the shift towards greater public sector involvement in the financing of care, the rise of private sector providers and the changes in the non-profit sector away from its voluntarist origins. Extensive semi-structured interviews with nearly 100 public, private and non-profit sector care workers and their managers were carried out to paint a picture of the provision and financing of home care for older persons in Dublin.

Home Care for Ageing Populations: International Comparisons of Domiciliary Care Provision

Outline: The allocation, organisation and quality control of formal domiciliary care services are central tasks for all community care systems. In the light of population ageing, changes in family structures, increases in women's labour market participation rates and the perceived unsuitability and high cost of institutional care, the challenge of providing adequate domiciliary care is of great importance.

Cash-for-care programmes in four European countries: A Comparison of Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland and the UK

Outline: This project analysed cash-for-care programmes for older people in four European countries. The homecare grants in Ireland, direct payments in the United Kingdom (England), service vouchers in Finland and personal budgets in the Netherlands were studied with a view to gaining an understanding of the background and reasons for the introduction of cash-for-care programmes and the impact that these programmes have had on the care regimes and care recipients in the four countries.

Long-term care for older persons: an analysis of changing policies in France, Spain, England, Sweden and Germany

Outline: This project (part of an EU Framework Five project) analysed policy paradigms in the area of long-term care for older people in France, Spain, England, Sweden and Germany since the mid-1990s, drawing on a total of almost 100 qualitative interviews with policy makers. The study identified three paradigms that do not have much in common and that have not converged in any essential respects.

New Social Risks in the Nordic Countries

Outline:This work drew on interview and documentary material collected in the course of a Framework Five project (Welfare Reform and Management of Societal Change, WRAMSOC), examining social policy changes in Finland and Sweden utilising the framework of ‘new social risks’, which are risks that have recently arisen or expanded, and which current welfare states are ill-adapted to address (including care-related risks).

Last updated: Nov 09 2011