A PIONEERING elderly care and stroke research team based in Bradford is set to celebrate a special anniversary.

Since the Academic Unit of Elderly Care and Rehabilitation was founded on the same site as Bradford Royal Infirmary, it has grown to become an international leader in healthcare innovation attracting more than £13 million in grants, say the professors who head it.

Tonight the anniversary will be marked by a celebration dinner at Bradford’s City Hall, attended by staff, patients and others who have supported and helped the Unit’s work.

The unit is in the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR) building on the BRI site but is part of the University of Leeds, administered by Leeds Institute of Health Sciences.

So far the unit has built up a large portfolio of applied health research relevant to older people and people who have had a stroke by evaluating trials. It has led on two of the world’s largest stroke rehabilitation trials and has won numerous awards for its pioneering work.

Professor Anne Forster, who leads the stroke programme, and Professor John Young, who leads the elderly care research programme, were the unit’s original founders.

Professor Forster said: “When we started the unit it was unique for the time because it was unusual to have such a unit based in a general hospital. We have been fortunate to have huge support from Bradford Teaching Hospitals, which has facilitated our expansion. Funding from a range of organisations, but particularly the Stroke Association and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), has enabled us to grow our research programme.

“We never imagined the unit would develop as it has, generating research work which has made us one of the most pioneering elderly care and stroke research units internationally.”

Professor Young added: “When I started working here in Bradford just over 30 years ago I was told quite bluntly that research into the health care of our senior citizens would be too difficult. It has indeed been challenging but thanks to the encouragement of older people themselves wishing to participate in research, and the constant support from clinical colleagues here in Bradford and beyond, we have made tremendous progress.”


As well as Professor Forster and Professor Young, the unit has a reader in scientific study of old age, two clinical senior lecturers, an assistant professor in stroke care and more than 25 other contracted research staff.

Last year the team led the development and implementation of the Bradford Electronic Frailty Index (eFI), which helps calculate an elderly person’s risk of disability, impairment, falls and complications of chronic diseases, as well as diminishing independence and capability.