Evaluation of Intergenerational activities to address loneliness: a case study approach linking children with older people living in residential care

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr Wendy Cousins  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Loneliness is increasingly recognised as an important public health issue. It is not just an unpleasant personal experience, it also has negative effects on people’s physical and mental health. Older people living in care homes are particularly vulnerable to loneliness and its consequences which can be physical and psychological as well as social isolation.

Intergenerational activities in which older people engage in social interaction with younger people and children have been found to decrease loneliness and have positive effects on the health and wellbeing of both older and younger participants.

This PhD study will start with a review of existing evidence from the literature and then test the idea that intergenerational activities in residential care homes for older people can help to alleviate loneliness and lead to other positive health outcomes. Exploratory methods, led by measurements of loneliness taken before during and after participation in these activities will be used.

The voices of relevant stakeholders will be an important part of this study through engagement with six-to-eight members of the “middle generation” of parents of young children whose own parent or parents are looked after in a residential care setting. 


This study has the potential to address loneliness in care home settings, through impacts upon policy, practice and further knowledge transfer. It also aims to further the UN sustainable development goals of Good Health and Wellbeing and Sustainable Cities and Communities; and the Public Health Agency‘s (2022) campaign to promote mental health and emotional well-being through developing stronger and wider social connections. 

Medicine (26) Nursing & Health (27)


Courtin, E. and Knapp, M. (2017). Social isolation, loneliness and health in old age: a scoping review. Health & social care in the community, 25(3), pp.799-812.
Gerst-Emerson, K., & Jayawardhana, J. (2015). Loneliness as a public health issue: The impact of loneliness on health care utilization among older adults. American Journal of Public Health, 105(5), 1013–1019. 

Generations United (2010). Family Matters: Public Policy and the Interdependence of Generations. Washington, D.C.pp. 4.

Drageset, J., Kirkevold, M., & Espehaug, B. (2011). Loneliness and social support among nursing home residents without cognitive impairment: A questionnaire survey. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 48(5), 611–619. 
Lancet Editorial (2023). Loneliness as a health issue. Lancet (London, England), 402(10396), p.79.

Nyqvist, F., Cattan, M., Andersson, L., Forsman, A. K., & Gustafson, Y. (2013). Social capital and loneliness among the very old living at home and in institutional settings. Journal of Aging and Health, 25(6), 1013–1035. 

 About the Project