£9.5 million to design new solutions for the UK’s ageing population

Three landmark projects using innovation and design to enable older people to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives, and challenge traditional notions of ageing have received £9,579,740 from the Big Lottery Fund.

The schemes will put older people at the heart of creating new solutions to meet their needs and ambitions. This could be new services or technologies that enable communities to work together to reduce loneliness and isolation, or help people independently access support and information to improve their physical health.

The number of people aged 65 or over is projected to rise by more than 40 per cent in the next 17 years to over 16 million, and by 2040 nearly one in four people in the UK will be aged 65 or over.*

The projects aim to help create a society where older people are more valued and can play a more active role in the decisions that affect their lives, as well as developing a new, more positive narrative about ageing.

Nesta has received £5.48 million to support eight innovations to mobilise people and communities across the UK to address the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population. This includes local user-led groups to support people affected by strokes or respiratory conditions, an app to allow off-duty medical professionals to respond to life threatening medical emergencies and a scheme to recruit volunteers to get fit while reducing isolation for older people in their neighbourhood.

The Age of No Retirement has received £499,740 for a social innovation project bringing together different groups – business, government, the media and the general public – to help create a world where age does not matter. It will use user-led design and approaches to generate insights, implement new ideas and share positive stories about how everyone can aspire to a more fulfilled and purposeful older age. This will be supported by an online crowdsourcing platform launching on 19 May, as well as networks and events, to enable people to share ideas and develop these into practical solutions.

Design Council has received £3.65 million for a programme taking a pioneering design-led approach to improving people’s experience of life as they age. Working alongside UnLtd, the South West Academic Health Science Network and the Centre for Ageing Better, it will bring together people in later life, social innovators and commissioners of health and care services to define, develop and deliver new solutions that better support the needs and aspirations of their communities. Initially based in the South West of England, the programme represents a new model for people-centred innovation that could transform responses to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing nation across the UK.

Big Lottery Fund Chief Executive Dawn Austwick said: “These projects challenge existing notions of how we support older people. By involving them in designing new services and technologies, we are putting them in the driving seat and enabling them to reap the most benefit. This gives people a greater stake in their lives and communities, and delivers more personalised and sustainable approaches to health and social care.”

Halima Khan, Executive Director, Health Lab, Nesta said: “We’re delighted to be working with the Big Lottery Fund to develop and grow eight innovations that enable people to age better. This enables both organisations to leverage new ideas, networks, skills and resources, and also ensures that the likes of GoodSAM, North London Cares and Shared Lives Plus, and the remaining others, continue their journey to reach and benefit many more people across the UK. We’re looking forward to supporting this great group of innovations to make a significant impact over the next five years. This is an exciting time for the Health Lab at Nesta.”

Georgina Lee, co-founder of The Age of No Retirement said: “It’s time for new inspirational thinking and action about age. The Age of No Retirement is a new innovation social enterprise. We are creating an environment – of live events, online innovation platforms, positive storytelling, design frameworks – where we can all innovate and act together, as citizens, as workers and as consumers. Our vision is to change the narrative of ageing from decline to growth, to create new intergenerational stories, discover new age-positive innovations, and build a society we all aspire to live in, for all ages.”

John Mathers, Design Council Chief Executive, said: “We are extremely pleased to have been awarded this funding for a truly ground-breaking programme that has been more than two years in the making. We need to create a system for supporting people as they age that is more personalised, more connected and more preventative. It’s a challenge of wider cooperation between individuals, their families and friends, social innovators, the voluntary and community sector and health and care leaders. The programme will show that by embracing collaboration, innovation and social action, we can design a better response to what matters to people as they prepare for and experience later life.”

These projects have been supported through the Big Lottery Fund’s UK portfolio, using a new, more conversational approach to funding that looks to support complex and challenging social issues.

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