OU/BBC
17 Jul 2009

The Open University and BBC ONE throw open the doors of Silverville

Silverville opens the doors of new retirement villages

Silverville opens the doors of new retirement villages

TX: starting Wednesday 29 July, 10:45pm, BBC ONE

The UK’s population is ageing. The fastest growing age group in the UK is the over 80s. And pensioners last year outnumbered children for the first time.

As the needs of our increasingly ageing population change, Silverville – a new six-part documentary on BBC ONE, co-produced by The Open University – will take a candid look inside one of the UK’s new retirement villages.

Popularised in America, and becoming increasingly common in the UK, retirement villages are purpose-built communities which offer independence, security and ultimately aim to be a ‘home for life’.

Across the series, Silverville will follow the lives of a number of residents living in Lovat Fields – a new retirement village in Milton Keynes. From Burt (90) and Rose (79) finding love again, to Brenda still able to do the splits at 93, viewers will have a privileged insight into the ups and downs of life in a new community.

Lynn Barlow, Series Producer for Silverville, says: “We hope we have highlighted some of the big issues of a rapidly ageing population - not just how and where we might live - but how the need for a flexible, cost-effective system of care is becoming increasingly pressing.

“We don't seem to value the wisdom and experience of older age - many mature people feel invisible and forgotten - but the residents of Silverville are full of priceless advice. They have plenty to say about life, love, sex, relationships. Your emotions don't switch off when you reach 60 or 70 or 80.”

The Open University is also conducting an online survey to gauge public attitudes to care, health, accommodation and many other issues associated with ageing.

The aim of the survey is to investigate how much is understood about services available and how they are accessed. Whether a carer or being cared for, economic factors and forward planning are key determinants of what is available and at what cost. Knowing how to make plans and where to seek advice and assistance are crucial to obtaining the best from the services. The responses will be used by Open University researchers to map out the current “state-of-play” between perceptions and reality of life for older people in the UK.

The survey outcomes will contribute to current consultations on the future shape of the care and support system in England.

The survey can be found at www.open2.net/caresurvey/index.html

Sheila Peace, Professor of Gerontology with The Open University, is leading the research and says: “We are living at a time when we all need to address the big question over how as a nation we provide a life of quality for older people. Society will need to find new ways of caring for and supporting older people. Living arrangements will continue to change and the environment in which people grow older can be particularly important to how people feel about themselves. Different types of accommodation may provide solutions for particular groups of people but lifestyle changes need to be set within a wider discussion which the responses to the survey will help provide.”

John Graham, Managing Director at The ExtraCare Charitable Trust which developed and manages Lovat Fields, says: “So many older people are simply not aware that the lifestyle led by residents in our villages is possible. We’re proud to be involved in a collaboration with The Open University and the BBC to show older people leading full and challenging lives as part of an outward-looking village community. Silverville shows there is a practical alternative to what we all regard as the unsatisfactory and limited options facing older people in the UK.”

Silverville is accompanied by a free booklet from The Open University which outlines the options available to people as they reach their retirement years. Call 0845 366 8008 or visit www.open2.net to order a copy.

Editor's notes
For interviews, preview DVDs, images and further information contact Lauren Hardy

Executive Producer for the BBC is Julian Mercer. Series Producer for the BBC is Lynn Barlow. Executive Producer for The Open University is Emma De’Ath.

The Open University Academic Consultants are Professor Sheila Peace and Dr Caroline Holland. The Broadcast Learning Executive for The Open University is Anne Stevens.

Websites:
Silverville: open2.net/silverville
Survey: www.open2.net/caresurvey/index.html
Courses: www.open.ac.uk/courses
Lovat Fields Village: www.extracare.org.uk

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