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Publication - Research Publication

Access to outdoor recreation by older people in Scotland

Published: 25 Aug 2016
Part of:
Communities and third sector, Research
ISBN:
9781786522122

Report detailing research on access to outdoor recreation for older people.

85 page PDF

9.3MB

85 page PDF

9.3MB

Contents
Access to outdoor recreation by older people in Scotland
1. Introduction

85 page PDF

9.3MB

1. Introduction

1.1 Background

This research is inspired by topic 2 on the CAMERAS evidence plan - "Good practice in making a difference to people with protected equalities characteristics in their access, influence on decisions and use of the outdoors". There are nine "protected" characteristics defined by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland - age, disability, sex, race, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, sexual orientation, and gender reassignment. [1] Seven categories are used in the Scottish Government Equality Evidence Strategy 2014: age, disability, race, sex, religion, sexual orientation and gender reassignment. [2] The main focus of the research is on age and disability, including older people with disabilities.

Data on outdoor recreation visits amongst the Scottish population highlights that older adults are less likely than young and middle-aged adults to engage in outdoor recreation on a regular basis (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Frequency of visits made to the outdoors in the previous 12 months, by age groups.

Figure 1: Frequency of visits made to the outdoors in the previous 12 months, by age groups.

Source: Based on Table 11.9 of "Scotland's People Annual Report: Results from the 2014 Scottish Household Survey". [3]

Increasing use of the outdoors forms one of the Scottish Government's National Indicators to track progress towards its strategic objectives of creating a wealthier, fairer, healthier, safer, stronger, smarter, and greener Scotland. [4] Participation in outdoor recreation is also of relevance to the Land Use Strategy [5] objective for communities (rural and urban) to be better connected to the land, with more people enjoying the land, as well as to the delivery of the Physical Activity Implementation Plan [6] and National Walking Strategy [7] . This research supports these policies by providing evidence to inform the provision of equal opportunities to participate in outdoor recreation for older people.

There is a wealth of evidence on the benefits derived from great use of outdoor recreation areas (Irvine et al., 2013; Mitchell, 2013), but there is less understanding of the particular barriers that discourage or prevent older people from participating in outdoor recreation. The main aim of the research is to improve our understanding of the factors impeding older people, including older people with disabilities, from accessing and using outdoor recreation areas and evaluate whether the importance of these factors differs between rural and urban areas.

Illustrative examples of 'outdoors' areas include local parks and open spaces, woodlands and forests, and water-related amenities including beaches, river banks and shores of lakes (often refered to as 'blue space' by academics and policymakers). This project considered only a selection of 'outdoors' areas referring to greenspace and bluespace. In this report we adopt the definitions of 'outdoors' and 'outdoor recreation' used by Scottish Natural Heritage in Scotland's People and Nature Survey ( SPANS) 2013/14 report: [8]

  • Outdoors - mountains, moorland, farmland (enclosed and unenclosed), forests, woods, rivers, lochs and reservoirs, beaches and the coast, and open spaces in towns and cities.
  • Outdoor recreation - any non-motorised activity carried out for leisure purposes and includes activities granted a statutory right of access under Part 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 ( e.g. walking, cycling and picnicking). [9]

1.2 Objectives and research questions

As stated above, this research aims to improve existing understanding of the factors hindering older people, and older people with disabilities, from participating in outdoor recreation. To achieve this aim, we have defined specific inter-related objectives and research questions. The first objective consists of investigating the spatial distribution of older people and older people with disabilities across Scotland to assess whether, and if so how, these groups of people are under- or over-represented in certain parts of Scotland, particularly between urban and rural areas and accessible and remote areas. This can help identify possible hot spots requiring special attention. The second objective is to explore through selective case study work the barriers to access to and use of outdoor recreation faced by older people, including older people with disabilities, in Scotland.

The project searched for answers to the following research questions:

  • How does the spatial distribution of older people, including those with disabilities, differ from that of the population as a whole? (objective 1)
  • What are the main barriers to participation in outdoor recreation experienced by older people in Scotland and how can we facilitate greater use of the outdoors amongst older people? Do participants want to engage more with the outdoors? (objective 2)

These two objectives, and associated research questions, were addressed separately in two stages. To answer the first research question (stage 1) the team carried out GIS-based mapping of the distribution of the groups of people with the protected characteristics of interest to this study - age, disability - using data from the 2011 Population Census data and the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics ( SNS) and the Scottish Government ( SG) 8-fold urban-rural classification. The findings from this analysis are presented and discussed in section 2 of the report. To address the second research question (stage 2) the team carried out qualitative primary data collection through case study work and semi-structured interviews with a sample of particular groups of older people to explore the main barriers to participation in outdoor recreation opportunities. The description of case study selection method, content of semi-structured interviews, and the findings from the case study analysis are presented and discussed in section 3 of the report.

In providing answers to the questions above, the project hopes to identify practical recommendations to the CAMERAS partners on how to improve levels of participation in outdoor recreation opportunities by older people, including older people with disabilities. In addition, the research carried out in the project provides a starting point for the work to be carried under Research Deliverable ( RD) 3.4.3 Rural Landscapes and Community wellbeing of the new Strategic Research Programme 2016-2021 of Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division ( RESAS).

1.3 Structure of the report

The report is organised in the following way. Section 2 provides a description of the GIS-based mapping of the spatial distribution of older people and people with disabilities using the Scottish Government 8-fold urban-rural classification. Section 3 presents the case study work carried out to investigate the barriers to participation in outdoor recreation by older people in Scotland, and discusses the main findings and conclusions. Section 4 presents the main conclusions of the project. Finally, section 5 provides a summary of the main recommendations to policy and practice arising from this work.


Contact

Email: Graeme Beale, socialresearch@gov.scot