Louise Lafortune is a Principal Research Associate at Cambridge Public Health (University of Cambridge, UK) and co-leads of its Lifecourse and Ageing research pillar.
She believes older people should be able to live full, engaged lives in their chosen communities. Working at the intersection of public health, ageing and heath economics, her research targets systems, interventions and technologies that help people maintain their independence and quality of life as they age.
Her current work includes a long-standing research programme aimed at developing the evidence base for Age Friendly and Dementia Community initiatives. She is PI on a recently launched research programme on the Social Return on Investment of Age Friendly Community Initiatives. She also co-leads projects looking at the determinants of public mental health and evaluation of community-based interventions to support the mental health of older adults.
Louise is Principal Investigator for both the School for Public Health Research (SPHR) and Principal researcher in the Population Evidence and Data Science theme for the Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East of England. She currently chairs the Aging Longevity and Health (ALH) initiative at the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), served on multiple research grant panels, and on research & policy advisory boards including NICE, the Alzheimer’s Society and Public Health England.
She holds a Master of Neurosciences (McGill) and a dual PhD in Public Health (Université de Montreal and Université de Paris).
Towards a value proposition for age-friendly community initiatives
Louise Fortune, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
While the global trend to create Age-Friendly Communities (AFCs) continues, major gaps remain in our understanding of their effect on health-related outcomes, the resources needed to sustain them, and their social value. This evidence gap reflects a lack of capacity to evaluate these complex interventions, and challenges measuring resources and outcomes. Still, substantial investment in age-friendly initiatives makes it imperative to understand whether they are effective, and what value they can generate.
This paper reports on the generalisable components of an ongoing multi-method study that trials the Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology in four sociodemographically diverse case study sites in England: a county, a city and two rural villages. We will present a Theory of Change that captures how AFC initiatives are developed, the context in which they operate, investments required, and ways in which they might generate impact. We will then report the findings from a systematic review on the social value of age-friendly work, highlighting gaps in knowledge. Priority outcomes and interventions from age-friendly initiatives, identified through case studies and documentary evidence, will inform subsequent steps in developing a value proposition for AFCs: i) evidencing the social value of priority outcomes, based on the preference of older adults, through a Discrete Choice Experiment with a representative sample of older adults (n=400); and ii) comparing the investment in selected age-friendly initiatives to the value of their outcomes to assess net benefit.
The paper gives a timely update on a research programme that will provide a sound evidence base and a robust methodology for assessing the social value of age-friendly work at different geographical scales and in differing demographic contexts. Presenting the backbone of our approach will add to the toolbox of practice-based evaluators and build capacity for routine evaluation. The case studies will demonstrate how members of the public and practice-based stakeholders shape AFC initiatives through frontline work and also through engagement with our research, where their views are essential.