The Whiteley Foundation

Living Longer, Ageing Well

To celebrate our centenary in 2017, we created The Whiteley Foundation for Ageing Well with a forward-focused mission to research and test innovations to help older people now and in the future live better quality lives, regardless of their personal wealth.

We believe that living in a connected community with a shared sense of belonging is linked to longevity and helps people enjoy a better quality of life in those extra years. Our goal is to co-produce research projects involving input from our residents and/or staff, from the design to the sharing of results.

We aim to inform best practice and policy, and contribute to the body of knowledge and innovation in the field of well-being in older age and we collaborate with academics, corporate partners and other charities to ensure we have the right mix of skills and experiences for our projects.

Life at 100

Watch this clip from the BBC’s Panorama programme when Baroness Joan Bakewell visited Whiteley Village to explore the impact of living in an almshouse community on residents’ longevity.

Our current work

 

  • Almshouse Longevity Study: Due July 2022 

    In collaboration with Bayes (formerly Cass) Business School and The Almshouse Association, funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust, we are assessing the data held by the wider almshouse community that will enable further life-expectancy analysis to be conducted. The project coincides with the 75th Anniversary of the Almshouse Association which provides an opportune time for this important research to extend the awareness of the benefits of almshouse living. The research findings and report are due to be completed in July 2022.

  • Birds & Bees Project: Due December 2022

    In collaboration with Surrey University and funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust, this project aims to develop a set of guidelines for future nature-based interventions that promote nature-engagement and support the health and wellbeing of older people. In Phase I, several of our residents were interviewed to understand how they engage with Whiteley Village’s natural surroundings. In Spring 2022, researchers and residents will work together to co-design the nature-based activities which will be the core component of the research project. The project will be completed in December 2022.

  • Kinder Communities Project: Due 2022

    Building on the success of the Transitions Project, we want to learn from residents and staff about the support currently offered to people when they move to a retirement community, and what kinds of resources and tools we could co-create to support new residents as they move to a retirement community. We will also use this project as an opportunity to develop ideas for how we can make retirement communities kinder places to live in. The project is due to start in November 2021. To learn more about the project and how you can get involved visit http://www.kinder-communities.com

  • Digital Storytelling Board Game: Due 2022

    Our residents’ knowledge and expertise is invaluable in the development of products and services that are designed for older adults and this project offers them another opportunity to contribute to innovation in the healthy ageing sector.  The Whiteley Foundation and researchers from the University of Surrey were recently awarded funding in the Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards which aim to, “Inspire innovations with potential to improve the health and wellbeing of older people across the world.”  Zinc (research & development consultancy) and UKRI (UK Research & Innovation) partnered to organise these awards and fund academics who want to translate their research into impactful and scalable products, services and interventions. Phase I of the project will seek to understand what is important in social relationships through confidential one-on-one interviews. Phase II will consist of co-designing workshops with residents and the research team to develop a board game that facilitates storytelling, reminiscing, and capturing and celebrating lives.

Completed projects

 

  • Exploring the Psychosocial Impact of Retirement Community Transitions: Published 2021

    The aim of the Transitions Project was to better understand the experience of moving into and adjusting to life in a retirement community in order to produce a framework for understanding those transitions and developing practical ways to support people better. ​The project, a collaboration with Surrey University and funded by the Pargiter Trust, combined findings from interviews with 25 residents living across three retirement communities in the UK and also included an overview of themes from worldwide research where residents had been asked about their experience of moving to a retirement community.

  • You, Me, and the Big D: Published Winter 2019 

    This participatory research in collaboration with University College London and four Whiteley residents, was funded by the British Society for Gerontology’s Averil Osborn Award. The project investigated the impact of brief dementia awareness training on knowledge, attitudes, feelings and behaviours of residents towards others in a retirement community who were living with dementia. The project was a significant success with important learning and positive feedback and outcomes for both the residents and academics involved. Outcomes included tackling misperceptions amongst other residents, better awareness of the issues faced by those with dementia and their carers, less fear of the disease and more kindness and understanding towards those with it. The project also provided a useful platform for follow up dementia awareness work and projects at Whiteley Village ( as part of Whiteley’s work to develop a more dementia friendly community) which following delays in 2020 due to Covid, is now underway again in 2021 with further plans for 2022.

  • Does living in a retirement village extend life expectancy? The case of Whiteley Village: Published February 2017

    In February 2017, our centenary year, we published ground-breaking research into longevity at Whiteley Village, conducted by Bayes (formerly Cass) Business School and sponsored by the Company of Actuaries Charitable Trust. It showed that older people living at Whiteley Village lived longer on average than they would have been expected to do, outside the village, despite their limited financial means; with women living up to five years longer than the national average. The data showed that with the right conditions, life expectancy inequalities that traditionally separate the financially advantaged and disadvantaged can be removed. (The Almshouse Longevity Study, currently underway, is an extension of this project, to assess if the initial project’s results were a phenomenon of Whiteley Village or if this was applicable to the wider almshouse community.)

  • Ageing Well: A collection of innovative thinking: Published Summer 2017 

    In 2017 as part of our centenary celebrations, we published Ageing Well – A collection of innovative thinking and new ideas. With a foreword from our Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, this publication brings together a range of thinkers with different perspectives on what it means to age well and who considered the critical factors that need to be present to enable older people to thrive not just now but into the future.

Find out more


We are extremely grateful to all our supporters and funders, and welcome discussion with any interested potential collaborators and sponsors.

If you are interested in working with us to develop projects which seek to improve the lives of older people, or would just like to find out more about our work, please contact:

Laura Cole, Head of Community: laura.cole@whiteleyvillage.org.uk or call 01932 825847

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