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The ACE (Active Connected Engaged) Study

A multi-centre randomised controlled trial of a peer volunteer led active ageing programme to prevent decline in physical function in older people at risk of mobility disability


What are we trying to do?
ACE (Active Connected Engaged) is a multi-centre randomised controlled trial of a peer volunteer led active ageing programme. The study will assess the effectiveness of the ACE intervention, compared with an information only control group, for preventing decline in lower limb physical function in community-dwelling older people at risk of mobility disability.


Why is this important?
During old age, people gradually transition from independence and adequate physical function to frailty and mobility disability. Increasing physical activity can prevent or delay progression of frailty and mobility disability. However, there is a clear trend of declining physical activity over time in people aged over 65. Reasons for this include the lack of a companion to go out with, low confidence to engage with community initiatives, and perceived safety of engaging with activity. The ACE intervention mobilises community resources (peer volunteers) to prevent decline in physical function in older people by supporting them to become more physically and socially active within their communities.

Given the increased levels of deconditioning and isolation predicted to have occurred amongst older adults, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, interventions such as ACE are particularly important at this time.  If the intervention is found to be cost-effective, we hope that this multi-centre trial will change NICE guidance and future NHS /Public Health service provision for promoting healthy ageing.


How are we doing it?
Participants in the intervention group will be paired with a peer volunteer (themselves over 55 years) who will support them to get out and about and engage with local activities and groups. They will be particularly encouraged to include physical activities amongst these activities. We will test whether the intervention group benefit from improved physical function, improved quality of life, cognitive function and reduced health and social care usage.



Who are we working with?

The University of Manchester lead one of the trial sites, the overall project is led by the University of Birmingham in collaboration with:

  • The University of Manchester
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University
  • University of Exeter
  • Cardiff University
  • Public Health England
  • Royal Voluntary Service
  • Age UK

The study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research - Public Health Research Programme.


For more information please contact Alison Littlewood (Programme Manager)