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Pulling back from the edge: an asset‐based approach to ageing well

Cormac Russell (Managing Director of Nurture Development, Dublin, Ireland)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 16 September 2011




This paper seeks to outline the ways in which the desire to age well is inextricably linked to the domains of community and associational life; relies for its strength on intimate, soft, human contact in addition to more distant, cold, professional services; can call on an abundance of untapped, local‐based care and, with greater intentionality by policy makers and practitioners, can lead to better physical and mental health outcomes for senior citizens.


The paper is a reflection piece based on the proven qualities of asset‐based community development as a process for convening conversations in communities – from which the latent, caring capacities of individuals and associations are unleashed – allowing communities to build from the inside out. Communities define an ageing well agenda for their locale and implement that agenda according to their capacities.


The paper finds that citizens and communities co‐producing health outcomes will out‐perform individuals reliant on professional medical services only.

Practical implications

Communities have immense resources for health creation; tapping those resources leverages more health benefits than professional medical interventions alone.


The paper challenges the omnipotent, medicalised, “sickness” model of healthcare and encourages the adoption of a model of healthcare in which citizens, older or otherwise, co‐produce healthy lifestyles and health outcomes in their communities with the assistance of professionals.



Russell, C. (2011), "Pulling back from the edge: an asset‐based approach to ageing well", Working with Older People, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 96-105.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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