Alleviating social isolation in the elderly

  • Alleviating social isolation in the elderly

    An informal study of older people’s use of hospitality services in Oxford initially prompted CITEM Co-Director Prof. Levent Altinay to develop this research stream. Events such as ‘classic coffee mornings’, held in hospitality outlets such as local cafés and restaurants, provided a focus to understanding people’s motivations for attending such gatherings and how these and similar events could be enriched to offer better social support for elderly people.

    Like the UK, Hong Kong and China are experiencing a demographic imbalance caused by a rapidly ageing population. It is clear that innovative solutions are needed to combat elderly social isolation, not least since the existing research base indicates that such isolation leads to a number of related mental and physical health problems. This in turn leads to undue pressure on primary health care services, as elderly people present with complaints of loneliness. CITEM’s PhD student Kuo Feng is currently researching the role of hospitality and cultural activity in curtailing social isolation in elderly populations across China – particularly within luxury senior living facilities. CITEM’s ambition is to extend this activity into Eurasia, a chronically under-researched region, focusing on countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan where the policy and infrastructure surrounding older people’s wellbeing is far less developed than in countries such as the UK. Whilst opportunities for older people are still lacking in the UK, there is a greater commitment to tackling the issue from Government and third sector services. Our initial work with the Eurasian National University, Kazakhstan, has shown that there is untapped potential for collaboration between sectors, and that hospitality services could play a role in delivering solutions to combat elderly loneliness.


    CITEM’s collaboration with Hong Kong Polytechnic University resulted in an award of £20,000 from HKPU to establish an initial study. This will look at elderly people’s use of hospitality services in Hong Kong and how hospitality can form part of a solution to alleviate social isolation. 

  • Get involved

  • The centre is firmly international in scope, working to build a portfolio of research and consultancy projects in the field of tourism, hospitality and events – and offers the opportunity for researchers to address key research gaps across this broad sector. We are particularly interested in cross-disciplinary studies and will be aiming to take advantage of the numerous points of intersection between tourism and other fields, including health and social care, natural science, computer science and technology. Please contact us to discuss any areas of potential collaboration or research.

    The centre aims to assist doctoral students in the early stages of their careers in tourism research. This support could take the form of advice on publication, pilot studies or facilitating access to specialist events and further funding. By capitalising on our expertise in securing funding and building partnerships on an international scale, we enable students to engage in activity which complements or extends the scope of their doctoral study. The assistance we offer ranges from helping students with small grant proposals to fund data collection, travel or pilot studies, to more involved support with post-doctoral fellowship applications. Ultimately, we want to develop the next generation of tourism researchers and create a supportive, collaborative environment in which high quality research can flourish.

    We are pleased to be offering PhD studentships. Contact us for more information.

    Does your doctoral thesis interface with tourism, hospitality or events management? If so we would be pleased to hear from you to discuss how the Centre may be able to support you in your research activity. Contact us for more information.

  • Contact us
    Oxford Brookes Business School
    Wheatley Campus
    Oxford OX33 1 HX
    Tel: +44 (0)1865 485858