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The new healthy ageing testbed is trialling innovative approaches to tackling isolation and loneliness in older people, contributing to the UK Government’s goal of supporting older people to live at home healthily for 5+ years longer.

The Northern Ireland consortium, led by Ulster University, has been awarded £50,000 as part of Connected Places Catapult, ‘Homes for Healthy Ageing Programme’.

Northern Ireland has the most rapidly ageing population of the UK nations and there is a strong impetus to improve the care of older adults. The funding from Connected Places Catapult allows the NI consortium to support local testbeds that involve real world urban and rural settings.

The consortium is made up of partners from Ulster University, Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC), Queen’s University Belfast, Age NI, Belfast City Council, Public Health Agency NI, The Health Innovation Research Alliance (HIRANI) and Market Development Association (MDA).

The testbeds will cover three key issues:

  • How to create tailored approaches that allow older adults to develop meaningful connections
  • How to rebuild the confidence and positive habits of older adults who have lost their social activities or hobbies due to COVID-19
  • How to remove the barriers of getting online for older adults who would benefit from being digitally connected

Project lead, Professor Joan Condell, Ulster University commented:

“The Northern Ireland consortium is delighted to be working alongside Catapult on the delivery of its ‘Homes for Healthy Ageing’ testbed programme in Northern Ireland. The testbed is supporting local SMEs to address the needs of healthy ageing through their products and services.

“Harnessing the power of innovation and breadth of expertise across Northern Ireland, this project will provide solutions to real-world problems and support older people to live longer in their own homes.”

Five SMEs have been selected to take part in the testbed:

Ethel care – Help health and care organisations manage large cohorts of vulnerable people in their own home for greater independence by supplying remote care and support through their digital platform.

Kraydel – Have developed ‘Kraydel Konnect’ which is TV-based service offering social connectivity and IoT-based monitoring for health, wellbeing, and independence.

Thriving AI – Helps carers to support older adults by enabling integrated care communication, coordination & monitoring supported by Machine Learning (ML) & AI delivered through a digital application.

Treasured Times – Harness multiple technologies in one, easy to use digital application to reduce loneliness in elderly people by keeping families connected with their loved ones.

Walk with path – Using wearables, Walk with Path can offer both patients and clinicians with direct feedback that helps to prescribe personalised care and support to reduce the risk of trips and falls.