The Centre for Innovative Ageing (CIA) provides the infrastructure, focus and leadership for ageing research and scholarship across the University’s Academic Colleges. It hosts CADR – a pan-Wales Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research.

The Centre is the only one of its kind in Wales, identifying gaps in ageing research and generating new interdisciplinary knowledge in the field of ageing. The research emanating from the Centre is highly acclaimed and the standing and reputation of the Centre is well recognised, having achieved international recognition for its work in social gerontology as a collaborating centre of excellence and a global leader in researchby the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG). World-leading expertise on social and environmental gerontology is acknowledged with Professor Burholt representing the UK on the Management Board of EU Cost Action Reducing Old-Age Social Exclusion: Collaborations in Research and Policy (ROSEnet); Professors Burholt and Keating are invited members of the International Network on Rural Ageing, while Professor Keating leads the Global Social Initiative on Ageing. In particular, Professor Vanessa Burholt is an elected member of the Ministerial Advisory Forum on Ageing, a Senior Research Leader for Health and Care Research Wales, and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. Dr Paul Nash, Dr Charles Musselwhite and Dr Sarah Hillcoat-Nalletamby sit on the British Society of Gerontology Executive Committee. In addition, Dr Deborah Morgan is the President of the Emerging Researchers in Ageing (ERA) section of the British Society of Gerontology.

Members of the Centre work collaboratively with other centres in the UK, Europe, Africa, the USA, Canada, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand as collaborators, consultants or advisors for international projects.

About the Centre

The Centre

The Centre for Innovative Ageing (CIA) provides a centre of excellence for research and training in the study of ageing. The CIA initiates, coordinates and supports ageing research within Swansea University and fosters collaboration between researchers in Swansea and those further afield (nationally and internationally).

The CIA has a philosophy of translating research into practice, achieved through active interaction with policy makers, managers and practitioners. The Centre fosters collaboration between business and academia, with the intention of multiplying the benefits of public and private investment in knowledge. It provides an exceptional training ground for researchers and post-graduate students, attracting the finest students from around the globe, and preparing them for:

  • working with older people
  • managing and delivering services for older people
  • designing or manufacturing products for an ageing population
  • joining the scientific research community



The current research being conducted in the Centre for Innovative Ageing (CIA) falls under two overarching strategic themes:

Participation, Social and Supportive Relationships

The community is important as the location for the formation and continuation of associations and relationships with others as well as the formation of cultural convention, norms, values and beliefs. On a national and sub-national level, the construction of norms, for example for supportive relationships, impacts on older people’s lives. The CIA has unique data and research expertise concerning the transnational relationships, social networks, inter- and intra-generational relationship of older migrants in the UK. Further, the centre is seen as a global leader in social gerontology within this theme. Topics under this theme include:- 

  • Social support networks
  • Transnational relationships
  • Community cohesion/conflict
  • Social contagion within communities of practice and place
  • Health literacy within support networks
  • Changing dynamics of networks and families
  • Differences between ethnicity/culture in family and networks structures

Environments of Ageing

This theme addresses person-environment interactions as people age. Traditionally the ageing individual was seen as being strongly influenced by the environment within which they lived, worked and interacted, encapsulated approaches such as ‘environmental press’ or ‘person–environment reactivity’. Research and theory now suggests older people are more actively engaged with their environment with roots in environmental psychology, and is often referred to as ‘environmental gerontology’ or the ‘ecology of ageing’. Environments of ageing is multi-disciplinary in nature, utilising theoretical perspectives from psychology, sociology, architecture, human geography, urban studies, planning and occupational therapy. It is often inter-disciplinary and looks at the interactions between engineering, technology, ICT and society and draws upon socio-technical, human-computer interaction and user-centred design theory within an ageing context. The CIA covers a wider range of topics under this theme including:- 

  • Housing and supported living environments
  • Social inclusion and connectivity
  • Transport, travel, road user safety
  • Attitudes towards technology, acceptability of technology, digital inclusion, acceptability of policy and interventions
  • Ageing-in-place, place attachment, migration, rural-urban contexts
  • Urban design and built environment
  • Falls

In addition to the world-leading research of the CIA, the centre is engaged with the development of networks in Wales, the wider UK and globally. This allows for the impact of the research conducted in the centre to be far reaching and positively affect the lives of Older Adults beyond the traditional scope of an academic research centre. Translational research and network development are cross cutting to these themes and as such are reported separately.



For biographies of individuals, click on the names below. To telephone any of our staff directly please telephone (+44) 01792 plus the details provided below.





Professor Vanessa Burholt

Director of MSc in Ageing Studies,

Director of the Centre for Innovative Ageing,

Professor of Gerontology

60 2186

Christian Beech

Senior Research Assistant, PhD student

60 2513

Maria Cheshire-Allen

Research Network Coordinator of OPAN

60 2048

Andrew Dunning

Lecturer in Social Policy

60 2563

Dr Sarah Hillcoat Nallétamby

Senior Lecturer in Social Policy

29 5783

Dr Paul Nash CPsychol

Post Graduate Programme Director, Ageing Studies

60 2907

Dr Christine Dobbs

Research Officer

60 2952

Dr Sarah Miles

Research Assistant

60 6386

Professor Norah Keating

Chair, Centre for Innovative Ageing

29 5789

Carol Maddock

Research Officer

60 2048 

Dr Charles Musselwhite

Associate Professor

51 8696 

Angela White

Clerical Assistant

60 6588

Dr Douglas Wilson

Statistician/ Research Assistant

60 4624 

Bethan Winter

Research Assistant

60 6197 

Dr Alexandra Sardani


29 5789 

Dr Deborah Morgan

Research Assistant

51 3018

Martin Hyde

Associate Professor

29 5789

Lizzie Evans


29 5789

Kate Howson

Clerical Assistant

29 5789

PhD Students

Faye Grinter

I worked within social services for a total of six years, as a welfare assistant, student social worker and finally as a qualified social worker after completing my BSc in Social Work at Swansea University in 2012. I went on to practice as a social worker in a child protection team for two years before changing career direction and moving to the Alzheimer’s Society where I was employed as Engagement and Participation Officer. I worked across the organisation in Wales to promote and embed user involvement in practice and to encourage and support involvement and co-production with people living with dementia in decisions that affect them. Whilst working at Alzheimer’s Society, I completed my MSc in Social Research Methods at Swansea University in 2014 before starting my PhD in October 2015. My PhD aims to identify the key features of a relationship-based practice for older people with dementia, to examine innovative approaches in social care and to develop policy and practice relevant evidence that supports replicable application of relationship-centred practice. Additionally, the project aims to explore how practitioners balance rights, risks and responsibilities when caring for an older person with dementia, within the context of increasing bureaucratic procedures and processes within social care.

Gordon Jones

I am a qualified social worker and mental health nurse. Most of my career has been in Welsh local authority social services departments managing and developing mental health services (including regional forensic mental health services), services for people with a learning difficulty and services for older people.  I have a BA (Hons) History from the Open University and a MA in Public Management from University of Glamorgan. Committed to the importance of social work in the delivery of social care I have been Welsh and UK chair of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). In  2012 I was presented with a BASW lifetime achievement award. My present research interest is focused on the experiences of people with young onset dementia – people who have dementia under the age of 65 - and the experiences of their family carers.

Deborah Llewelyn

The primary aim of my PhD research is to develop a toolkit that can be used by participatory arts practitioners to assess the impact of their practice on well-being through creative writing interventions with people with dementia. It is anticipated that the use of the toolkit will contribute to the development of a solid evidence base on the impact of participatory arts on older people with dementia.  A comprehensive  literature review will be undertaken on participatory arts evaluation and wellbeing, with a specific focus on creative writing. The review of literature will inform the development of the toolkit which will be piloted to (i) consider the effects of creative writing interventions on people with mild to moderate dementia living in residential care homes and (ii) examine the usability of the toolkit by the creative writing practitioners.

Carol Maddock

I originally worked as a therapy radiographer in the UK and Australia before completing my MA in Health Promotion at Brighton University in 2000.  I then worked within the voluntary sector as a health development worker and health and social care facilitator working alongside voluntary sector and health and local authority colleagues for many years.  I have recently worked in the Older People and Ageing Research and Development Network in Swansea as the network coordinator and have developed a keen interest in ageing issues and research activities, particularly the involvement of older people in the research process I commenced my PhD in January 2015 and this will focus on the ‘role of social support networks on the dementia literacy of older people’. Health literacy can provide opportunities to empower individuals and communities to better manage their own health and reduce poor health outcomes. This PhD aims to estimate the current dementia health literacy status in the older population and to identify gaps in their understanding of dementia. This may then better inform practitioners and policy makers, for example, about individual’s and their social support networks needs around dementia issues and potentially which type of interventions may be most suitable for health education and health promotion.

Steven Milsom

My background is a career of 39 years as a Civil Servant in the Welsh Office/Government. From 1997 I led a wide range of significant social service policy and legislative changes in Wales, the latter period as Deputy Director for Adult Social Services Policy. Since retirement from Welsh Government in October 2013 I have commenced on a part time basis a PhD in Gerontology at Swansea University. This research programme has to be completed by 2018 and I will be examining the subject of ‘choice and control in care homes’ and how quality of life, rights, dignity and autonomy of residents can be realised. On a voluntary basis and supporting my PhD, I have been a member of the Commissioner for Older People in Wales’ Advisory Board for her statutory Review of Quality of Life and Care in Care Homes in Wales and am now member of an Advisory Group on follow up action by Care Homes. I have been working with a care home provider designing and completing an evaluation of their Enrichment of Life Programme that runs across six care homes. Another role I hold related to my PhD is as an Associate Social Care Consultant with Practice Solutions Ltd.

Amy Murray

I completed a BSc in Criminology and Social Policy at Swansea University, graduating in 2012. Following that I undertook an MSc in Ageing Studies within the Centre for Innovative Ageing. During the course of both degrees, I worked for the Department for Work and Pensions for over seven years, dealing with State Pension applications, which extended to a bereavement service in the latter part of my employment. As a bereavement advisor I was responsible for recording deaths and the cancellation of benefits. Additionally, whilst completing the MSc, I volunteered for the Stroke Association as a group communication mentor, helping stroke patients with any skills which had been affected such as reading, speaking or writing, in order to re-build their confidence. I also volunteered for the Royal Voluntary Service as a customer support volunteer, responsible for visiting vulnerable older people in the community to establish whether the service could provide any non-profitable support to maintain independence and lead fulfilling lives, such as befriending or help with preparing meals. In January 2015 I commenced a full-time PhD focusing on driving cessation in later life, and how the role of planning can break the link with depression and isolation, supervised by Dr Charles Musselwhite. With my current knowledge background as a pension’s advisor dealing with people approaching retirement age, and from primary research undertaken with people working past traditional retirement age as part of the MSc dissertation, I am keen to study driving cessation as a major later life transition similar to retirement from the workplace. I intend to undertake the research using a qualitative methodology to explore differences between current older drivers and retired older drivers in a rural vs urban area, and to uncover perceptions, motives and impacts of driving cessation, essentially working towards planning measures to reduce the negative impact of this transition on quality of life and wellbeing.

Angharad Parr

I completed a BSc in Psychology (2011) and an MSc in Abnormal and Clinical Psychology (2012) at Swansea University before undertaking an Ageing Studies PhD in 2012. During my undergraduate and MSc studies, I accumulated a diverse range of voluntary experiences.  Some of which included; a hospital discharge service volunteer for Age Cymru, a group assistant for Swansea Mind mental health charity, a communication support volunteer at the Stroke Association, and a support volunteer at a community centre for people with learning disabilities. I am a full-time PhD student with a studentship funded through an ESRC Doctoral Training Centre (Social Work and Social Care pathway) and the College of Human and Health Sciences.  I am funded to explore the role of social work with older people with complex needs in times of transition.  My research in particular explores the role of social work within the ageing and care transitions of individuals in mutual caring relationships. More specifically, these types of mutual caring relationships involve an individual with learning disabilities.   An increasing number of people with learning disabilities are providing regular and substantial care for their ageing relatives. Carers with learning disabilities are an unrecognised and under-represented group within both research and practice.  A qualitative methodological approach has been undertaken to explore mutual caring relationships from multiple perspectives of mutual carers and professionals. This research has the potential to impact upon the lives of mutual carers at many levels: at an individual level through the promotion of positive practice; contributing to an evidence base that can be used by policy makers to inform and shape future policies; and also identifying gaps in current service provision and any additional resources needed to meet the needs of carers and carers with learning disabilities.

Aled Singleton

My work considers the crossovers between the fields of ‘place-making’ [human geography, architecture, planning and urban design] and gerontology and is placed at a neighbourhood level. This research is an urban ethnography to consider well-being as people develop a relationship and attachment to place over their lifecourse. Through the use of maps, historical documents, contemporary 'psycho-geographic' writing and walk-along interviews mixed methods are intended to help society make sense of how people emotionally relate to, and negotiate, their local neighbourhoods; for example streets, green spaces, shops and public spaces. The fieldwork will take a ‘life-course’ approach to consider the relationships between place and health: how people in places have developed over time. The intention is to work closely with community-based organisations and artists who want to take a lead in making places age-friendly for their own localities. I am also Vice President of the Swansea University Postgraduate Research Society.

Joanna Wolton

After graduating in 2012 with a BA (Hons) in Sociology from the University of York, I then undertook a Masters by Research in Sociology. My master’s project explored the privatisation of care work for older individuals from the perspective of the care workers. During the course of both degrees I worked as a care assistant for older individuals in a residential care setting. My experiences provided me with the impetus to conduct research into the care sector. More recently in 2014, I volunteered for the charity Women’s Health and Family Services based in Tower Hamlets, London. This provided me with an insight into the emerging importance of Third sector organisations and the role they play in community social support roles for vulnerable people in society. In October 2014 I commenced a full-time PhD studentship, placed within the Centre for Innovative Ageing, supervised by Dr Sarah Hillcoat-Nallétamby. The PhD project involves ‘An examination of the role that Care & Repair Cymru caseworkers undertake as “link agents” with the aim of facilitating independent community-based living for older people in Wales’. The main aim of the research is to use the findings to inform the policy and practice associated with ageing in place and ageing populations.