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Taking a capabilities approach to evaluating supportive environments for older people

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rose Gilroy



The ageing of our population means that most places have to see themselves as retirement communities. A pressing question is therefore how environments are supporting quality of life for older people. This paper suggests that a capabilities approach could be a valuable tool. Firstly, it can explicitly address issues of inequality and diversity (Sen, Inequality re-examined. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992; Nussbaum, Women and human development: The capabilities approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000; Robeyns, Feminist Economics 9/2-3:61-92, 2003). Secondly, because the capabilities approach acknowledges agency, it can be used to ensure that older people themselves name the criteria that are important. The resulting framework can be used by older people and policy makers to map the responsiveness of their place to later life concerns. It offers, therefore, a means of shifting attitudes from one of deficit and dependency to independence and well being. In producing capabilities criteria, this paper looks to the views of older people as expressed in recently published work in the UK. The paper discusses in turn the domains cited by older people: health, adequate income, mobility, safe neighbourhood, the comfortable and secure home, social relations and support illustrating how these key quality of life factors are often compromised by poor policy provision. © Springer Science + Business Media BV/The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2007.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gilroy R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied Research in Quality of Life

Year: 2006

Volume: 1

Issue: 3-4

Pages: 343-356

ISSN (print): 1871-2584

ISSN (electronic): 1871-2576

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s11482-007-9025-3


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