Social Gerontology and Aged Care

Social Gerontology focuses on the social aspects of Old Age and Ageing. 

Our research in this group focuses on older people’s experiences of ageing and the personal and social impact of public policies on their lives and health, as well as their experiences of the health system. The School conducts research in this field, mainly through the work of the National Centre for the Protection of Older People.

The care of older people in the community and in residential care is a major part of nursing work, and gives rise to a myriad of research questions related to the experiences of older people, their health and related care needs and aspects of their quality of life, as well as questions about the ways that aged care is planned and delivered. The Aged Care and Social Gerontology research group is led by Professor Gerard Fealy.

What main areas of research are addresed?

A number of research projects are being conducted or have been recently completed in this field. These include:

What research opportunities are available?

The School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems offers opportunities for graduate research training to master's and PhD level to suitable applicants.

Who are the researchers involved?
Where does this research take place?

The research takes place at the UCD School of Nursing & Midwifery & Health Systems


Completed Projects

Project title ‘National Centre for the Protection of Older People, Programme 2001–2014

PI: Fealy GM

Sponsor: HSE. Completed projects in the programme include the following:

Phelan et al. Pilot study to test the reliability of the Elder Abuse Suspicion Index in an Irish context

Phelan et al. Pilot study to test the appropriateness of the Older Adult Financial Exploitation Measure in an Irish context

Lafferty et al. Caregivers’ experience of conflict, stress and coping when caring for older relatives

O’Donnell et al. Empowering older people to prevent their abuse and mistreatment

Fealy et al. Evaluation of the HSE national training programme for the prevention of elder abuse

Downes et al. (2013) Abuse of older people with dementia: A review

Lafferty et al. Abuse in residential care settings/institutional abuse

O’Donnell et al. A systematic review of intervention and services which address elder


Project title ‘National Centre for the Protection of Older People, Programme 2008–2011

PI: Treacy MP

Sponsor: HSE. Completed projects in the programme include the following:

Drennan et al. (2012) Survey of staff-resident interactions and conflicts in residential care settings for older people

O’Donnell et al. (2012) Managing elder abuse in Ireland: The senior case worker’s experience

Lafferty et al. (2012) Older people’s experiences of mistreatment and abuse

Naughton et al. (2010) Abuse and neglect of older people in Ireland: report on the national study of elder abuse and neglect

Phelan et al. (2012) Review of elder abuse screening tools for use in the irish context

Fealy et al. (2011) Financial abuse: A review

Fealy et al. (2010) Constructing ageing and age identity: A case study of newspaper discourses

Phelan et al. (2009) Examining newspaper reports of care in an Irish nursing home: A discursive analysis

Lyons et al. (2009) Public perceptions of older people and ageing: A literature review

Lyons et al. (2009) Protecting older people: An overview of selected international legislation

Lyons et al. (2009) Elder Abuse and Legislation in Ireland

Lafferty et al. (2009) Public Perceptions of Elder Abuse: A literature review


Project title ‘Enhancing quality of life for older people in receipt of palliative care and older people in continuing care facilities’

PI: Treacy MP

Sponsor: UCD Strategic a Major Initiatives Fund


Project title ‘Older people and attendance at the hospital emergency department: An investigation into their health care needs and other factors related to emergency department attendance.’

PI: Treacy MP

Sponsor: Health Research Board and Health Service Executive


Project title ‘Loneliness and social isolation among older Irish people’

PI: Treacy MP

Sponsor: National Council on Ageing and Older People (NCAOP)


BooksPhelan A. (Ed) (2013) International Perspectives on Elder Abuse London: Routledge.Book chaptersPhelan A. (2013) ‘Elder abuse: An introduction’, In International Perspectives on Elder Abuse, 1–31, Phelan A. (Ed). London UK: Routledge.Phelan A. (2013) ‘Ireland’, In International Perspectives on Elder Abuse, 8396, Phelan A. (Ed) London UK: Routledge.Phelan A. (2013) ‘Conclusion’ In International Perspectives on Elder Abuse, 222–228, Phelan A. (Ed) London UK: Routledge.


Publications: Peer reviewed journal articles

O’Donnell, D, Treacy, PM, Fealy GM (2014) The case management approach to protecting older people from abuse and mistreatment: Lessons from the Irish experience, The British Journal of Social Work 1–18. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcu027

Phelan A. (2013) ‘Elder abuse: A review of progress in Ireland’ (Guest editorial) Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect doi: 10.1080/08946566.2013.784088

Naughton C, Drennan J, Lafferty A. (2013). Older people’s perceptions of the term elder abuse and characteristics associated with a lower level of awareness. Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect     DOI:10.1080/08946566.2013.867242

Lafferty A, Treacy MP, Fealy GM (2013) The support experiences of older people who have been abused in Ireland, The Journal of Adult Protection 15 (6), pp. 290-300, DOI: 10.1108/JAP-02-2013-0007

Naughton C, Drennan J, Lyons I, Lafferty A (2013) The relationship between older people's awareness of the term elder abuse and actual experiences of elder abuse International Psychogeriatrics, 25(8), 1257-1266.

Naughton C, Drennan J, Lyons I, Lafferty A, Treacy MP, Phelan A, O’Loughlin A, Delaney L. (2012) Elder abuse and neglect in Ireland: results from a national prevalence survey Age and Ageing 2012 41, 98–103 doi: 10.1093/ageing/afr107

Phelan A. (2012) ‘Elder abuse in the emergency department’ International Emergency Nursing, 20(4):214–20, DOI: doi: 10.1016/j.ienj.2012.03.009.

Naughton C, McGrath E, Drennan J, Johnson F, Lyons I, Treacy P, Fealy G, Butler M (2012) ‘The profile and follow-up of patients who attend the emergency department following a fall’ International Emergency Nursing 2012; 20 (4), 243-50. DOI: 10.1016/j.ienj.2011.07.005

Fealy GM, McNamara M, Treacy P, Lyons I (2012) Constructing ageing and age identities: A case study of newspaper discourses Ageing & Society, Jan 32 (01), 85–102, doi: 10.1017/S0144686X11000092.

Fealy GM, Treacy P, Drennan J, Butler M, Naughton C (2012) A profile of older emergency department attendees: Findings from an Irish study. Journal of Advanced Nursing May; 68 (5):100313. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05800.x.

Naughton C Drennan J, Treacy P, Fealy G, Kilkenny M, Johnson F, Butler M (2011) ‘How different are older people discharged from emergency departments compared to those admitted to hospital?’ European Journal of Emergency Medicine 18 (1), 19–24 doi: 10.1097/MEJ.0b013e32833943d3.

Phelan A. (2011) ‘Socially constructing older people: Examining discourses which can shape nurses’ understanding and practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 67 (4), 893-903, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2010.05536.x.

Phelan A. (2010) ‘Elder abuse and the community nurse: Supporting the patient. British Journal of Community Nursing, 15 (10), 472–478.

Phelan A. (2010) Discursive constructions of elder abuse: Community nurses’ accounts’. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19 (suppl. 1), 65.

Naughton C Drennan J, Treacy P, Fealy G, Kilkenny M, Johnson F, Butler M (2010) ‘The role of health and non-health-related factors in repeat emergency department visits in an elderly urban population’ Emergency Medicine Journal 27 (9), 683-7.

Phelan A. (2009) Elder abuse and neglect: The nurse's responsibility in care of the older person. International Journal of Older People Nursing, 4 (2), 115119, doi: 10.1111/j.1748-3743.2009.00164.x.

Phelan A. (2008) ‘Elder abuse, human rights, citizenship: Implications for nursing discourse’ Nursing Inquiry, 15 (4), 320330, doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1800.2008.00423.x.

Fealy GM, McCarron M, O’Neill D, McCallion P, Clarke M, Small V, O'Driscoll A, Cullen A (2009) ‘Effectiveness of gerontologically-informed nursing assessment and referral interventions for older persons attending the emergency-department: a systematic review of literature’ Journal of Advanced Nursing 65 (5), 934-945. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.04961.x

Drennan J, Treacy P, Butler M, Byrne A, Fealy GM, Frazer K, Irving K (2008) ‘Support networks of older people living in the community’ International Journal of Older People Nursing, 3, 234–242.

Drennan J, Treacy M, Butler M, Byrne A, Fealy GM, Frazer K, Irving K (2008) ‘The experience of social and emotional loneliness of older people in Ireland’ Ageing and Society, 28, 1113–1132.

Fealy, GM (2006) ‘Commentary on Lauder W, Mummery K & Sharkey S (2005) ‘Social capital, age and religiosity in people who are lonely’ Journal of Clinical Nursing, 14, 1–7’, Journal of Clinical Nursing 15 (6), 794–797.