During the 1990s Florence Clark and a group of occupational therapists at the University of Southern California pioneered a preventive, occupation-based approach to healthy ageing called ‘Lifestyle Redesign’, which sought to empower community-living, independent older people to do just this; to examine their lives and to: Analyse their own occupations, which enabled them to understand and alter their approaches to everyday activities, thereby optimizing function and well-being [and face] fears that create stagnation by challenging themselves within a group setting under the care of an occupational therapist (Mandel et al, 1999).
Through this process of Lifestyle Redesign participants were made aware that positive changes to lifestyle can only be sustained if they are an intrinsic part of what a person does on a day-to-day basis. They were helped to adapt their daily activities and routines, to overcome a number of physical limitations and to make positive life choices.
A randomised controlled trial was undertaken to test the efficacy of the programme and it was found that older people participating in the Lifestyle Redesign programme experienced significant improvements in general health, physical and social functioning, mood and wellbeing.
Encouraged by these positive findings researchers in the United Kingdom explored whether it was possible to take the principles of Lifestyle Redesign and to develop an intervention to meet the needs of older people living in the United Kingdom. A feasibility study was therefore undertaken in Sheffield. Older people in the United Kingdom worked in partnership with researchers to inform the development of an intervention which they named Lifestyle Matters.