Dr Manik Gopinath is a lecturer in Ageing at The Open University. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (College of Engineering, Trivandrum, India), a Master’s degree in Planning (School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, India), and a PhD from Town and Regional Planning, University of Dundee (2015).
Manik’s research expertise lies at the interface between relationships of place and wellbeing. Her programme of work is designed to explore and develop nuanced understandings of the complexities of ageing. More than ever, demographic ageing of populations has brought considerations of ageing and living well centre stage. Living well brings into focus questions about ‘wellbeing’ and the ‘place’ where one lives. However, discourses, assumptions and expectations around age and ageing, that are deeply and simultaneously personal, historical, cultural, social and political, belie simplistic understandings of living well.
Manik’s work interrogates and theorises interrelationships of place and wellbeing in ways that are intended to offer new insights into the complexities of ageing and challenge thinking around ageing stereotypes. In so doing, this work engages critically with, and brings together, ‘relational’ frameworks of place and wellbeing that are sensitive to diversity of people, values, processes and contexts. Her PhD research has the potential to contribute to conceptual debates on residential mobility in later life and practically to dynamics and implications of moving residence.
In her recent British Academy/Leverhulme funded research project (2017), ‘Coupledom in later life: living together and apart’, Manik is exploring how older couples sustain relationships when living apart. Shedding light on the place and wellbeing implications for older couple relationships, this work has the potential to challenge the stereotype of ‘single older person’.
Manik is currently designing and authoring learning materials for a new level 2 module, ‘Critical issues in health and wellbeing’. Her contribution to this module speaks to the significance and implications of family, social and work relationships for health and wellbeing. She is also the current chair for a level 2 module, ‘Adult health, social care and wellbeing’.
Manik is working with Dr Mary Larkin to gather impact related evidence from key stakeholders around two projects, ‘Utilising Carer-Related Research and Knowledge: a scoping review and information resource’ and ‘Identifying exemplar models and support for older carers and carers of people with dementia’ (both developed and led by Dr Larkin). The gathering of evidence involves carrying out semi-structured interviews and a consultation workshop with key stakeholders.
A key research commitment and concern for Manik is that her research is beneficial for non-academic and academic stakeholders. Demonstrating this commitment, she has from outset initiated collaborations with three external stakeholders on her British Academy/Leverhulme project. These include:
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Lead||01/Dec/2017||30/Sep/2019||BRITAC British Academy|
This pilot qualitative study aims to develop understanding of how couple (married and cohabiting) relationships in later life are experienced and maintained when partners are separated by movement into a care home. Evidence suggests that high quality couple relationships in later life positively influence wellbeing of both spouses (Umberson et al 2006). Ongoing wider research on loneliness, quality of life, care and caring speaks to the significance of (social) relationships in later life. Yet missing from such debates is attention to those minority but highly complex relationships that are lived out across different residential environments. Extending understandings of the dynamics of such relationships under-researched in British context, findings from thirty interviews with 10 couples will be shared with practitioners contributing to development of inclusive, cost-effective interventions for separated care home residents and their spouses. The study has wider relevance across fields of social care, social work, clinical psychology and families and relationships.