About the Centre

The Centre for Innovative Ageing (CIA) is a centre of excellence for research and training in the study of ageing and provides the infrastructure, focus, leadership and support for ageing research and scholarship across the University’s Academic Colleges.  Its underlying philosophy is a positive holistic view of ageing with older people at its core.

International Reputation

The standing and reputation of the Centre’s research activity is highly acclaimed.  It has achieved international recognition for its work in social and environmental gerontology as a collaborating centre of excellence and a global leader in research by the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG). Members of the Centre work 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. 

The Centre’s Director, Professor Vanessa Burholt, represents the UK on the Management Board of EU COST Action Reducing Old-Age Social Exclusion: Collaborations in Research and Policy (ROSEnet).  She is also 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 as well as being an invited member of the International Network on Rural Ageing.

Research into practice

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 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.  As a result, health and social care policy makers and employers have a robust evidence base to inform care delivery and policy making while Welsh industry and business is well-placed to develop products and services that meet the changing requirements and expectations of the ageing population.

Student Opportunities

The Centre offers both taught and research postgraduate degrees and provides an exceptional training ground for researchers and post-graduate students.

The Centre for Innovative Ageing hosts 

  • The Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research (CADR) – a pan-Wales research centre 
  • My Home Life Cymru - promoting quality of life and delivering positive change in care homes for older people

Research and study


The current research being conducted in the Centre for Innovative Ageing (CIA) falls under three 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
  • Globalisation
  • Falls

Work, retirement and ageism

This theme links to the Ageing Well in Wales commitment to improving labour market outcomes for older workers. It also links to the UK government ‘fuller working lives’ agenda and builds upon the global drive, spearheaded by the WHO to combat ageism.  Topics covered under this theme include:

  • The working environment, including ageing well in work, age diversity in the workplace, precarious working and the gig economy
  • Age management policies and HR/organisational practices
  • Perceptions of ageing, ageism and age discrimination 
  • Retirment planning, retirement adjustment, working beyond retirement and un-retirement
  • Working with a disability/chronic illness

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.



or 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

Dr Charles Musselwhite

Associate Professor in Gerontology


51 8696

Dr Martin Hyde

Associate Professor in Gerontology martin.hyde@swansea.ac.uk 29 5789

Professor Norah Keating

Professor of Rural Ageing, Centre for Innovative Ageing


29 5789

Dr Sarah Hillcoat Nallétamby

Associate Professor in Social Policy and Ageing


29 5783

Dr Christine Dobbs

 Postgraduate Programme Director, Gerontology and Ageing Studies c.dobbs@swansea.ac.uk


60 2952 

Andrew Dunning

Lecturer in Social Policy


60 2563

Maria Cheshire-Allen

Research Development Officer


60 2048

Carol Maddock 

Research Officer


60 2048

Dr Sarah Miles

Research Assistant


60 6386

Dr Deborah Morgan

Research Assistant


51 3018

Dr Douglas Wilson

Statistician/ Research Assistant d.w.wilson@swansea.ac.uk 60 4624

Bethan Winter

Research Assistant


60 6197 

Angela White

CIA Administrator


60 6588

Helen Barney

Research Support Assistant


60 2651

Stephanie Watts

ENRICH in Wales Coordinator



Suzy Webster

My Home Life Coordinator


29 5789

Postgraduate Study

Why study ageing at Swansea?

Ageing is a theme which cuts across business, industry, the public sector and the economy in general.  Globally, there is a requirement to develop skills ahead of need.

In the 2011 census 16 per cent of the UK population was aged 65 or over – an increase of around a million people since the previous census in 2001. This trend is projected to continue. By 2033, 23% of the population will be aged 65 and over compared to 18% aged 16 or younger. The fastest population increase has been in the number of those aged 85 and over, the 'oldest old'.

Longevity, however, is only part of the story and there is a growing focus on what makes a good old age. Gerontology and Ageing Studies at Swansea takes a holistic approach. It shifts the central focus from the medical model of ageing, to one that encompasses a range of disciplines including psychology, sociology and demography, viewing ageing more positively.  Gerontology and Ageing Studies brings together a unique blend of policy, practice and academic rigour to put our students at the forefront of current developments.

The Centre for Innovative Ageing is designated as a Centre of Excellence for both teaching and research under the IAGG’s Global Ageing Research Network scheme, meaning that we are one of the leading centres in the UK and at the forefront of international research. As the only Centre of its kind in Wales, we have direct links with the Welsh Government and our research has been influential in policy development. We offer both taught and research postgraduate degrees which prepare students and researchers 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

Taught postgraduate courses

MSc/ PGDip/ PGCert Gerontology and Ageing Studies

MSc International Gerontology and Ageing Studies

Our taught programmes are developed in partnership with business and the public sector and designed with the needs of employers in mind.We provide a range of study options, both full- and part-time, to suit the varied backgrounds and needs of our students. 

The MSc in Gerontology and Ageing Studies normally takes one year full-time, including a dissertation, while for part-time students the teaching is spread over two years with the option to take a further year for the dissertation. The taught element of the course is also offered without the dissertation option, leading to a Postgraduate Diploma.  A shorter Postgraduate Certificate is also available, enabling students to study specific modules, perhaps to suit the needs of employers.

The CIA’s international profile also enables us to offer an MSc in International Gerontology and Ageing Studies, which is delivered over 18 months with a period of study abroad in Canada during the second year.

Postgraduate research degrees

PhD/MPhil Gerontololgy and Ageing

We offer opportunities to carry out original research in the field of ageing, supervised by experts with international reputations. We are keen to hear from PhD candidates whose research interests are aligned with those of staff in the Centre and its overall mission.

The CIA leads the way in research on the civic and social engagement and participation of older people, and the disruption of this engagement by personal and structural factors. Our interests also encompass the influence the natural and built–up environment has on the ageing population, and care provision for the older person across such areas as social care, health care, residential care, palliative care and chronic conditions.

Recently completed PhDs have included research into loneliness and social isolation, the role of information and communication technology to support ageing in place, multidisciplinary working between health and social care professionals and social exclusion in rural communities.  



PhD Students

Carole Butler  

I completed a BA (Hons) in Counselling and Psychology in 2009, followed by an MPhil entitled: ‘An analysis of the stress factors experienced by adolescents with Down’s syndrome (as perceived by parents/carers and adolescents)’ in 2011. Since 2011 I have been involved in teaching and research. I have been teaching Psychology and Counselling modules for the Department of Adult Continuing Education (DACE) at Swansea University, whilst being involved in a number of charity funded research projects exploring the effects of psychosocial interventions on individuals affected by a variety of health conditions.  

In July 2016 I started a PhD funded by The Healthcare Management Trust under the supervision of Dr. Sarah Hillcoat-Nallétamby (Centre for Innovative Ageing) and Professor Andrea Tales (Department of Psychology). The research aims to develop, pilot and evaluate an innovative intergenerational intervention to enhance person-centred care for older people with dementia living in residential homes. The intervention will create opportunities for older residents and younger people from the community to come together and engage in activities relating to the preparation and sharing of food.  The study aims to explore the impact of the intervention on residents with dementia, younger people and paid carers to inform future practice and assess the likelihood of sustainability.  

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.

Caitlin Reid 

I have a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Reading and an MSc in Psychiatry from Cardiff University. I have worked in residential care supporting younger adults with learning disabilities and mental health disorders. I have also worked in primary and secondary education (Welsh medium and English medium) supporting pupils with ASD, learning difficulties and learning disabilities. My most recent role has involved supporting university students with mental health issues.

In July 2016 I started a PhD at the Centre for Innovative Ageing. The research ‘Understanding and Improving the Mental Well-being of Older Adults in Residential Care’ is funded by the Healthcare Management Trust and supervised by Dr Charles Musselwhite and Dr Michael Coffey. The research aims to use a mixed methods design to develop a better understanding and a more detailed view of well-being for older adults in residential care in Wales; to explore ways to improve and maintain older adult’s well-being and quality of life, and to offer recommendations for best practice in assessing and maintaining well-being and improving the mental health of older adults in residential care. The first stage of the research will use a standardised well-being scale to measure the mental well-being of older adults in residential care. The findings will be used to inform and develop interview questions for the second, qualitative stage of the research. 

Kelly Roberts 

My area of professional interest and qualification centres on public policy and protection. I completed a BSc in Criminology and Social Policy at Swansea University in 2012 and an MSc in Social Research in 2015. I have also been a part time undergraduate Social Policy lecturer since 2012 and am currently a County Councillor for the City and County of Swansea.

In October 2016 I commenced a full-time PhD which assesses the Relationship of Concessionary Bus Pass Use and Health for Older People in Wales. This PhD focusses on two main strands; (1) Identifying current policy and associated data sets within Wales; (2) Identifying potential stakeholders, collaborators and research participants. So far my research has identified that data in Wales is not kept at the same level of detail as data in England, which makes it hard to assess whether the policy has been successful. I am currently working with the Welsh Government and Local councils to assess what data is available, who owns it and whether linkages can be made with SAIL/ADRC. My overall objective is to examine the potential for concessionary travel data to be mapped to health and social datasets and to identify data cleansing, gaps and quality control needed to maximise its potential. Along with primary data collection and qualitative data analysis, this research will allow me to use a subset of these datasets to directly compare the health of different types of users and non-users and to investigate how far the concessionary fares scheme allows older people to contribute to the wider economy. 

Allyson Rogers

Studying part time with the Open University, I gained a degree in Psychology and Criminology and subsequently an MSc in Social Research Methods at Swansea University in 2016 with a dissertation project investigating whether wheelchair use can cause social isolation. Now at the Centre for Innovative Ageing my research interests continue to focus around Environments of Ageing. The PhD I am conducting explores how we adapt to the use of mobility aids acquired through ageing or chronic illness needs. This is approached by understanding how people, society and the environment encompass these changes or if people become excluded because they do not meet a prescribed expectation of a ‘normal body’ or normal movement.

The study investigates the use of mobility aids such as walking sticks and wheelchairs, and also aids like white sticks for the visually impaired.  In addition to the disabling conditions that require their use, mobility aids have been shown to impact on everyday relationships, routines and practices sometimes leading to social isolation. Using ethnographic methodologies, the everyday routines of mobility aid users are being investigated to understand how well public places and spaces such as shops, GP practices, dental surgeries, public buildings, shopping centres and markets accommodate mobility aid users. It also incorporates systems such as public transport and personal transportation. I call people mobility aid users because for the purposes of this study, it is the use of the mobility aid that is being investigated, although this obviously cannot be completely separated from any disability or illness. 

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.