Maintaining Independence Study

The VFI, along with Northumbria University, has been commissioned to undertake research into the health and well-being of older veterans who have lost a limb either during or post-service. The study, which has received Military Covenant funding from the government and is supported by the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association (Blesma), will explore key issues with regard to maintaining independence throughout the ageing process.

The majority of limbless veterans in the UK are now classified as “older”, having been injured in conflicts that pre-date the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By studying the life stories of 32 limbless veterans from around the UK, we seek to understand the holistic impact of limb loss on veterans and their families, and to identify the physical, psychological and social needs of older limbless veterans. We will also examine the issue of social isolation, including its significance and relation to maintaining independence.

Across the ageing process, working with veterans aged from 40 through to 70-plus, this project will provide valuable insights into veterans’ experience of growing old with limb loss. Given the absence of UK research into these issues, this project addresses a major gap in knowledge and understanding regarding the limbless veteran population. We aim to create significant impact by shaping future health and social care policy and provision for limbless veterans across the public and third sectors throughout their entire life course.