Intergenerational Practice: A review of the literature

Kerry Martin, Mary Atkinson, Iain Springate

08 May 2008

This report focuses on the findings from a literature review of what is known about the effectiveness of intergenerational practice conducted by NFER for the Local Government Association (LGA).

Key Findings

  • There is a wide diversity of intergenerational practice in the UK, with activities commonly occurring within education, community development/neighbourhood renewal, and health settings. However, there is a lack of clarity around definitions of intergenerational practice, particularly in relation to the age of participants from the two generations, the involvement of family members from different generations and the role of the ‘middle’ generation in intergenerational practice.
  • There is evidence in the literature that successful intergenerational projects have the potential to deliver positive outcomes for participants (e.g. increased understanding, friendship) and for communities (e.g. community cohesion). There were clear success factors in the literature that were linked to the achievement of these positive outcomes. There was some evidence in the literature that if good practice in these areas was not followed, intergenerational practice could lead to negative outcomes for participants.
  • The review also demonstrates that the evidence base for the effectiveness of intergenerational practice is still weak. There is a need for more research to inform future policy and practice and to demonstrate the credibility and effectiveness of the approach and, in particular, for more national UK research because context and policy issues differ from elsewhere.
  • Given the potential outcomes both for individuals and communities, and the close relationship of these outcomes to current policy concerns, this would suggest that there is a need for greater strategic commitment to, and investment in intergenerational practice, as well as greater advocacy and promotion to ensure work progresses systematically and effectively.
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