Do Not Go Gentle – Gerontology and a Good Old Age

The Centre for Innovative Ageing at Swansea University hosted the 46th Annual British Society of Gerontology Conference, at the Bay Campus this month.

The conference welcomed over 400 delegates from every continent to celebrate in “The Art of Ageing“, shining a light on the innovative and participatory research being conducted to improve the lives of older people worldwide.

The event was opened by Vice Chancellor Professor Richard B Davies, with an opening keynote address by Professor Dawn Brooker, Director of the University of Worcester Association for Dementia Studies, with musical interludes from the very talented Music in Mind Dementia Choir.

The Great Hall provided the key venue for the conference with the main plenary taking place in the Sir Stanley Clarke Auditorium and parallel academic and workshop sessions along with community engagement events running throughout the ground floor meeting rooms and spilling over into the adjacent School of Management building.

‌The ambitious and creative conference agenda included a packed academic programme which covered the following broad themes:

  • Environments of Ageing
  • Social & Supportive Relationships 
  • Participation & Inclusion 
  • Cognition & Dementia 
  • Cultural Gerontology 
  • Health & Social Care 
  • The Arts & Older People 
  • Minority & Diverse Populations

The Great Hall galleries and bar area provided the perfect location for delegates to network, collaborate and share best practice, as well as relax and enjoy a light buffet lunch and refreshments while admiring the stunning sea views from the balcony.

With perfect July weather on Wednesday evening, delegates got to experience the very best Welsh hospitality and make the most of our beachfront campus with a delicious beach BBQ and entertainment from local charity Circus Eruption which uses circus skills to enable people to realise and believe in their own potential and the potential of others.

‌On Thursday events kicked off with an early morning run along the beach followed by further workshops, academic presentations and keynote by Professor Norah Keating, Professor of Rural Ageing from the Centre for Innovative Ageing at Swansea University and the University of Alberta, Canada. In the evening delegates were invited to the Sir Stanley Clarke Auditiorium which was transformed into an incredible black tie dinner venue. Centre pieces were hand made by local care home residents and the menu focussed on flavours of Wales. An inspirational after dinner speech was delivered by Radio Cymru presenter Beti George about the highs and lows of caring for her husband David Parry-Jones who was diagnosed with dementia in 2009. Music and entertainment came in the form of Swansea’s U3A Ukulele Big Band and was followed by an old skool disco!

All of the conference activity and key messages were captured in images by International Graphic Facilitator Eleanor Beer. The conference proceedings in picture can be viewed on her website:

Gemma Carney, Lecturer in Social Policy and Ageing at Queen’s University Belfast and member of the Executive Committee of BSGsaid: “I would never have guessed it was possible to combine an all inclusive beach holiday with academic excellence.

“It seems I lack the imagination of the team led by Dr. Paul Nash, ‘The Face of British Gerontology’ and his team of CIA Agents who welcomed us at the Swansea University Bay campus for this year’s BSG conference. The Centre for Innovative Ageing somehow managed to combine 5 star food, comfortable accommodation, highly original entertainment and academic excellence in what everyone agreed was a BSG conference that will become part of the Society’s folklore in the future.”

Dr Paul Nash, Post Graduate Programme Director,  Gerontology & Ageing Studies who produced and organised the event with the help of Swansea University’s Event Services team said: “From estates to catering and of course event services, the teams at Swansea University really pushed the boat out, meeting all of the needs of the conference organisers and delegates alike. The event support service provided throughout the event was second to none and nothing was too much trouble. Our army of “CIA Agents” working together with the E&FM teams showed delegates from all over the world what a great team we have at Swansea University in terms of inclusivity, helpfulness, organisation and of course gerontological knowledge. The conference has been widely acknowledged as the best BSG conference ever and has reset the standard when it comes to our annual event.”