Rethinking retirement

The Advanced Care Research Centre is officially launched

University experts will work to find answers to the challenges of an ageing population, thanks in part to £20m funding from Legal & General

13 Dec 2021

Successful events

While Covid-19 pandemic meant the ACRC launch was a largely restricted to being a virtual affair, the digital nature of it did have plenty of benefits, not least the fact that ACRC was able to stage six linked online seminars during the week following the launch.

Following that success, further events are planned in the future. To keep up to date with that and all the rest of the latest news, more information is on the ACRC website and there is a monthly newsletter that’s available to anyone who wants to subscribe.

We’re committed to supporting the ACRC because people in the UK and many other countries are living longer. Increasing life expectancy is to be celebrated, but it poses major challenges for many individuals and families, and for both public and private sectors.

The problem is not simply that people are living longer but are living longer in poor health. In the UK, life expectancy has grown faster than healthy life expectancy, with men now expected to spend 16 years of life in poor health, and women 19 years.

Increasing numbers of people living with multiple health conditions (known as multimorbidity). The majority of over-75s have at least three major chronic conditions and this is strongly associated with reduced quality of life, which drives the need for support from family or health and social care services in later life.

Quality of life

Professor Guthrie believes it is time to stop thinking solely about how we extend life with often arduous treatments and to think harder about how we also improve the quality of the life we already have.

He argues that an overly medical focus means many people in later life are taking large numbers of medicines and attending several appointments for separate conditions rather than being helped to more effectively manage the complexity of their individual circumstances with minimal burden.

He adds: “The ACRC will work with people in later life and their families and with health and social care services to really understand how we might have a different care system. We really need that because the numbers of the oldest old is rapidly increasing. The current system is barely coping with providing barely adequate care to the existing population. If you jump forward 20 or 30 years, even that isn’t sustainable without an enormous increase in budget, so we need to get both better and more efficient.”

ACRC will carry out ground-breaking research into data-driven, personalised and affordable care. It aims to find solutions that will support the independence, dignity and quality of life of older people living in their own homes or supported environments.

Activity and research at ACRC will include: 

  • Developing new data science methods that help us target interventions in later life through better analysis and improved data for insight and prediction.
  • Using innovative social science research methods to understand how people plan for or manage the challenges posed by changes in physical and mental function as they age and in the context of social support, personal financial circumstance, community resources and statutory services.
  • Developing new technologies to help care for people in later life and aid care research.
  • Developing new models of care. Care is often delivered as discrete services that are variably integrated and largely reactive to events rather than responsive to the wishes, priorities and needs of individual people in later life. We will work with citizens, carers, and health and social care partners to both understand and evaluate recent service innovations, and to co-create new models of care which are responsive to individual circumstance and have the potential to be implemented at scale within health and social care sectors.  
  • Producing the next generation of leaders in the field at the Academy for Leadership Training in Advanced Care, which offers a four-year, highly interdisciplinary PhD. The first cohort of 10 students started in September 2021, and the ACRC is currently recruiting the 2022 intake.
  • Stakeholder engagement to shape national debate on ageing, health and care, including building an improved understanding of the ageing individual in context.
The common rhetoric is that the ageing population is a disaster that’s going to destroy society. However, living longer is actually a good thing, but we need to make sure that more of our years are lived with good quality of meaningful life.

Professor Bruce Guthrie

Lead academic and the Director of the ACRC

Watch online

The ACRC launch event and all six of the linked seminars are all available to watch online:

Plenary and Panel Discussion:

ACRC Launch


ACRC Launch Seminar on Dementia

Covid-19 in Social Care:

ACRC Launch Seminar on Covid 19 in Social Care

Insights from Data:

ACRC Launch Seminar on Insights from Data


ACRC Launch Seminar on Multimorbidity

Importance of Place:

ACRC Launch Seminar on Importance of Place

Co-what, so-what:

ACRC Launch Seminar on Co-what, So- what