Can technology help local people as they age?

Multi partner event explored new ideas and innovations to improve the quality of life for our ageing population whilst boosting entrepreneurship.
It is predicted that by 2050, two billion people – or nearly one out of every four people – will be over the age of 60. To see if technology can help, a collaboration explored possible challenges and solutions at a recent event at the University of Plymouth.
The University, in partnership with the South West Academic Health Science Network, Innovation in Healthy Ageing and the EPIC project, hosted an event on the 31st of January 2019 to explore new ideas and innovations to improve the quality of life for our ageing population whilst boosting entrepreneurship.
The collaborative team were keen to focus on key challenges which affect us all as we grow old; maintaining our physical, cognitive and mental health whilst overcoming restricted mobility, increased frailty and social isolation-all of which inevitably increase the demand for health and care services.
“It was exciting and challenging to share creative and intellectual space with people from such a range of mindsets. Together we can share less obvious, more enduring ways through.” – Sarah Scaife, Artist
The vibrant event involved a full day of learning and sharing experiences, interacting with existing medical and digital technologies, and facilitated discussions to explore new ways that will help such as making our spaces and environments more appropriate for our needs.
Challenges for ageing well were presented and attendees had to work together to create solutions and 3D prototypes, with the aim of continued partnership after the event.
“In a short space of time and with tremendous effort from the teams involved, the University of Plymouth worked closely with the South West Academic Health Science network (AHSN) to pull off an interactive day with school children, students, innovators, academics and healthcare professionals. The day was a reflection of how successful we are in working together and bringing people together to share challenges and opportunities to speed up the development and uptake of innovation in health and social care.” – Professor Jonathon Gray, CEO, SW AHSN.
Key speakers Professor Jonathon Gray, Chief Executive of the SW AHSN and Professor Ray Jones of the University of Plymouth stimulated conversation throughout the day; it was clear that there were many bright ideas that could be developed into a product or service, developed from concepts that were at first deemed radical! These ideas will be supported with funding and academic support to encourage the product to market, and to be available for all to benefit from.
“We had a great mix of people Professors of Electronics and Digital Arts, students from Scott Medical College, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, optometrists, dietitians, nursing students – a whole range of people – who brought great insight and energy to discuss ideas in using technology for healthy ageing. I certainly have taken away some ideas to work on.” – Professor Ray Jones, University of Plymouth.
This conversation will continue through student placements and solutions created through the SW AHSN’s work to support innovation in the NHS and to better connect interdisciplinary conversation in the South West.
To find out how your voice can count in shaping the future of health and social care, contact innovation@swahsn.com

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