The Role and Contribution of Philanthropy to the Lives of Older People in Ireland

By Andy Cochrane, Sinéad McGilloway, Mairéad Furlong and Michael Donnelly.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

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This paper examines the impact, since 2008, of an international philanthropic organisation on the ageing sector in the Republic of Ireland. Several methods were used in a sector-wide evaluation, including documentary analysis, one-to-one in-depth interviews, a cross-sectional survey of grant-holders, and collaborative work with Northern Ireland. There was a relative lack of strategic focus on older people before the philanthropic work began; evidence for policy and planning was limited and advocacy was small-scale and largely uncoordinated. This may have been because the Republic of Ireland had the lowest proportion of people aged ≥65 in the EU. The findings show that philanthropy has played a pivotal role in enhancing capacity, infrastructure and expertise through large-scale investment in research and training, strengthening older people’s organisations and developing centres of excellence. Important initiatives include a national longitudinal ageing study, a commitment to develop a positive ageing strategy and roll-out of the Age Friendly Counties programme. The sustainability of these notable achievements relies on a sector-wide collaborative ethos, translating evidence into practice, actively involving older people and securing support from the academic, health and government sectors. Overall, the philanthropic organisation has contributed significantly to Ireland’s efforts to develop innovative, evidence-based ageing strategies and policies.

Keywords: Philanthropy, Positive Ageing, Age Friendly, Ageing Research, Policy

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.13-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 393.904KB).

Dr. Andy Cochrane

Assistant Lecturer, Department of Psychology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co Kildare, Ireland

Dr. Cochrane is a research psychologist and has been involved in age-related research for the past five years. She is currently conducting a Cochrane systematic review assessing the effectiveness of ‘re-ablement-based’ services for older people.

Dr. Sinéad McGilloway

Director Mental Health and Social Research Unit, Department of Psychology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Maynooth, Co Kildare, Ireland

Dr. McGilloway is a senior academic and community/public health psychologist. She has many years of experience in undertaking applied policy-relevant health and social care research and has been involved in a wide range of research programs and studies based on mixed methodologies.

Mairéad Furlong

Maynooth, Ireland

Furlong is a psychologist with extensive research experience, focusing on evaluating the effectiveness of community-based projects designed to improve the lives of children and their families.

Dr. Michael Donnelly

Reader, Centre of Excellence for Public Health, Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, UK

Dr. Donnelly is a social and behavioural scientist, with an extensive record in applied health and social care research. He has considerable experience in the assessment and evaluation of service quality and the operation and management of public services.