Valuing capabilities in later life

20 November 2012

This research report examines, from the perspective of the Brotherhood’s aged service users, what they value in life, what enables them to live fulfilled and meaningful lives, and what Brotherhood aged services can contribute to this.

With its accent on freedoms, opportunities and human rights, the capability approach provides a conceptual framework in which to consider a new model of aged services in which will enhance older adults’ human rights and capabilities, especially for those who have been disadvantaged, and ensure that their views continue to inform and shape ageing policies, services and models of practice.

The central concern of the capability approach, first articulated by Amartya Sen (1979) and developed by Martha Nussbaum within a social justice and human rights framework, is the opportunities people have for being and doing what, for them, constitutes a good life. Taking this as the starting point, this research represents the first part of a larger study which will examine what users of Brotherhood aged services value in life, what capabilities they aspire to, how current services enhance capabilities and how the capability approach might be integrated into service provision.

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Simon Huggins, Robert Gruhn, Helen Kimberley, 2012, Valuing capabilities in later life, Brotherhood of St Laurence, viewed 24 April 2017, <>.

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