UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: New Materials Launched to Support Learners and Carers

Press Release   •   Feb 24, 2010 11:27 GMT

Continued learning can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on older people’s health, confidence and dramatically improve their quality of life.

This was the main finding of Enhancing Informal Adult Learning for Older People in Care Settings, a BIS Learning Revolution project involving older learners across England.  A reception – to be held later today - will highlight the project’s successes and show best practice; and Baroness Estelle Morris and Skills Minister Kevin Brennan will launch a new set of resources to take the project forward.

The materials - available online and in hard copy – will give practical advice and support to care managers, education providers and local authorities in order to enhance learning in care settings.

Kevin Brennan said, “Using these new teaching materials can make a big difference for older people who may think learning just isn’t for them: they bring with them new opportunities for fun and a whole new lease of life.”

He continued, “People are now staying active for longer, both physically and mentally. This means it is important to keep on learning later in life. A recent report from the Government Office for Science echoes this in recommending people continue learning, connect with others, take notice, stay active and give – all results of informal learning and part of the great work we see BIS and NIACE doing with older learners from all walks of life.”

The Government committed to widening learning opportunities in day care, residential care and supporting housing when it published The Learning Revolution in 2009. This highlights the fact that England’s population is ageing and care services need to be more adept at providing enjoyable and stimulating activities for this group.

Research by NIACE for the Interim Report for this project, showed how learning can reduce isolation; improve both physical and mental health: reduce dependence on medication; improve recovery rates; reduce dependency on others and lead to a greater enjoyment of life which gives residents something to look forward to.

Baroness Estelle Morris, said, “When we talk about 'education for all' that includes those in care settings as well. This group of people benefit from learning just as much as any other group and there is good evidence that it improves their well-being as well as being something they enjoy. We have to be more ambitious and the materials being launched today will raise our sights and make more of us see what is possible”

Fiona Aldridge, NIACE Programme Director, Research, said, “The impact of people living longer than ever before will be huge. The number of people reaching the 85 is likely to double by 2026. For too many people this means they will be living with health conditions that reduce their quality of life, for even longer. The cost to our health budgets will be enormous and a huge strain on the economy.”

She ended, “Regardless of disabilities or differences in ability, all older people in care settings should have the opportunity to take part in learning activities, to stimulate them, help them acquire new skills and to share ones they already have with others. The research we, and others, have done, illustrates the multiple positive benefits learning can have on residents and staff.  Today’s launch is a significant moment in increasing and improving learning opportunities for older people in care.”

For further information please contact:

Ed Melia, NIACE Head of Media, on 0116 204 4248 or 07795 358 870 or

Marie Koupparis, NIACE Assistant Press Officer, on 0116 204 4270 or 07824 481 499 or

Notes to editors

1.                  The launch of materials for Enhancing Informal Adult Learning for Older People in Care Settings will be held on Wednesday 24th February 2010, 4.30pm at Central Hall Westminster, London SW1H 9NH. Journalists wishing to attend should contact Ed Melia, NIACE Head of Media, on 0116 204 4248 or 07795 358 870 or

2.                  The materials for Enhancing Informal Adult Learning for Older People in Care Settings are available to view at: or

3.                  This project, Enhancing informal learning in care settings – to improve the wellbeing of older people in care and to help and encourage care staff in supporting learning activities, arose out of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Learning Revolution White Paper, in which the government made a specific commitment to take action to improve informal learning opportunities for older people in a range of care settings – residential care, day care, care in the home, and in supported housing – in England.

4.                  The Government Office for Science report, Mental Capital and Wellbeing, is available online at For the executive summary visit

5.                  The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) is the leading non-government organisation for lifelong learning in England, and exists to encourage more and different adults to engage in better-quality learning of all kinds. It campaigns for, and celebrates the achievements of, all adult learners.

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.


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