The aim of the research programme of the Belgian Ageing Studies is to:

  1. Provide an instrument to measure the living conditions and quality of life of older people in Belgian municipalities.
  2. Promote evidence-based policy at the local level by providing input and mobilizing knowledge for planning and inclusive policy programmes.
  3. Support the process of creating age-friendly communities.
  4. Examine trends in particular municipalities by conducting follow-up  studies.

In order to support the process of evidence-based policy-making at the local level, a research scenario was developed that could be applied and used in every municipality. Through a standardized survey, municipalities were able to map local challenges and opportunities, as well as issues of quality of life, among home-dwelling older people.

Through a participatory method, older people themselves are actively involved as actors in all stages of the project. They play a crucial role in the planning, design, and the realisation of the research project, as well as in the development of local policy plans on the basis of the findings of the research. In each of the participating municipalities, a number of older volunteers were recruited and they facilitated and monitored the research process, for instance through delivering questionnaires to respondents personally and collecting them when completed.

Research is viewed as a tool for creating community networks on the one hand and empowerment of older people on the other. The creation of a community network between local authorities, members of local senior organisations, third sector agencies and other community stakeholders is crucial for developing broadly based support around the theme of age-friendly environments. Empowerment is promoted through a cycle of research, participation, education, community action and policy-making.

Finally, the project seeks to examine trends in municipalities by conducting BAS follow-up studies. In a number of cities and municipalities, the BAS study has been executed for the second time, a few years after the first BAS study. Thus, local authorities gain insights about the shifts and developments in their municipality and through the BAS follow-up findings, they may check whether particular policy measures have had a desirable impact.