Advanced Care Research Centre

Blog – Living and researching in Islay

ACRC Academy student Noah, who is investigating older adult care transitions in remote communities, reports back on his first months living on the island of Islay.

Beach on the island of Islay

Around the middle of March, I moved to Islay – an island off the west coast of Scotland. Famous for its whisky, Islay boasts a whopping nine distilleries (with two further ones planned), as well as an array of beaches. While tourists flock here to sample these delights, my purpose is a rather different one: to explore how older residents experience, make decisions around, and plan for care in the context of a remote community. In order to do this, I am carrying out a range of research activities, including attending community activities and conducting interviews and focus groups. I have also been working on a part time basis as a postman, a role I am hoping will be useful when it comes to recruiting interview participants.

While at this stage my time on Islay has yielded more questions than answers, some interesting themes have already begun to emerge. One concerns the distance of the island from arenas of decision making on the mainland. This can have a detrimental impact on care. For instance, ambulance callouts are reportedly coordinated by staff that have little knowledge of Islay’s geography, thus increasing callout times. Yet there is also evidence of the community stepping in to fill such gaps in formal provision – islanders have been known to work together during emergencies to transport patients to Islay’s small A&E unit. Such actions are reflective of the close-knit nature of the community here, and the impact of this on care is something I am particularly keen to explore in the coming months. One thing is for sure: I won’t be short of a dram or two while I’m here.