My passion lies with exploring ways via which we can improve health and quality of life outcomes while ageing, especially for those who do not actively seek to improve their health. Older people and other hard-to-reach groups are often keen to learn but do not always have the opportunities, financial capacity or facilities to do so. For this reason, I have committed time and other resources in developing and delivering a series of public talks that are free to attend. The aim of the Ageing Well Public Talk Series is to create a “bridge” that would bring current research findings, translated into lay language to everyone. And invite wider public to engage in discussions about physical and mental health and wellbeing as we all age.
The vision of the AWPT Series is to support everyone with ageing well. This is done by co-creating the most conducive learning environment together with all involved - the best way in making learning accessible to everyone. The AWPT Series is about co-designing & co-creating with people with lived experience in ageing at any stage of ageing. The AWPT Series are a unique opportunity to learn with and from people with lived experience, the members of public as well as practitioners that I invite to co-facilitate the talks.
In the past 18 years I have been delivering public talks to older people facilitating learning on naturally occurring ageing processes and self-management in the UK and overseas. The AWPT Series, that I have designed and launched in 2019 in the UK, represent the culmination of my research and teaching experience coupled with my drive to make a substantial impact on people’s lives and enable our health and social care systems to use resources more efficiently.
I am a research associate in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) at the Open University focusing on health and social care research, scholarship and knowledge exchange. I completed my doctorate in the Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET) at the Open University, where my doctorate was titled 'Asexy and we know it: the emergence of asexual activism as a sexual and gender social movement'. Before completing my doctorate, I worked for over a decade as a special education needs (SEN) secondary school teacher in London and Leicester.
My research interests lie in the role health plays in LGBTQ+ wellbeing. Despite progress, many LGBTQ+ individuals continue to face health disparities across their life course linked to societal stigma and discrimination. This has been associated with high rates of mental health disorders, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation. LGBTQ+ individuals can find it difficult to access health and social care services to combat these health inequalities. My research considers how health and social care service delivery can address this by focusing on LGBTQ+ communities as ‘seldom heard’ populations with specific health needs.
I am delighted to have joined the team involved in the aging well series of public talks team. My professional background is in health, and I am very interested in the ways we can all make small and achievable changes to improve and maintain our physical, mental and emotional health across the life course. As a researcher who became disabled as an adult, I am very aware that everyone has different abilities when it comes to exercising or accessing the outdoors but that the smallest of changes like making sure we drink enough water, choosing the stairs, or practicing mindfulness, if possible, can make a positive difference to the quality of our lives. I am also very interested in the translation and application of academic research from the page to the real world and feel the aging well project is a perfect example of how academics and the general public can collaborate in co-producing research that is so valuable and relevant to all of our lives.
I am part of the research support team for internal funding in the WELS faculty. I assist with the administration and promotion of the Ageing Well Public Talks. I have always been interested in the best and most effective way to keep mentally, emotionally, and physically well.
The Ageing Well Public Talks are an essential provision for everyone. We are all growing old and we want to do so in good health. The talks provide an A-Z guide on how to do just that. Jitka and the team of experts tackle very important and pertinent topics that not only enlighten but also make a tangible difference in our ageing process.