Alan Gow and Eleftheria Vaportzis (Heriot-Watt University); Anna Leask and Paul Barron (Edinburgh Napier University)

It’s not uncommon for visitor attractions to create tailored programmes for different groups, often focussing on something that’s expected to be particularly appealing to that demographic. But when it comes to older people, provision is often targeted towards being dementia-friendly. However, what about those people in their 70s, 80s or older with no specific impairment…might there be a way to create a programme to suit their needs and interests within our museums and heritage attractions?

That was the simple question that brought us together. As an Interface-funded project our interests within that question were, however, diverse: from the Edinburgh Napier-perspective the focus was on developing a structured programme across a number of visitors attractions targeted specifically at people aged 75 plus; from the Heriot-Watt side, the interest was how such a structured programme might provide benefits for health and wellbeing via productive activities in a social environment.

Developed in collaboration with partners from the Camera ObscuraNational Museums ScotlandHistoric Environment Scotland, and Rosslyn Chapel, our volunteers took part in weekly visits, each about 2 hours long over a two month period. Run by the partners, the events ranged from “junior guides” leading visits at Trinity House to making Victorian Christmas decorations at Rosslyn.

The feedback is currently being analysed, but highlights seemed to be the opportunity to attend a specially planned programme of activities, being part of a small group, and the appeal of visiting places not normally open to the public.

The results will be shared at events over the coming weeks, including one at Heriot-Watt University as part of the Psychology Research Seminar series (21 March, 3.15 – 4.15pm); if you’d like to hear more email A.J.Gow@hw.ac.uk for details.

15 March 2018