New technologies, systems and approaches to help older people stay well while living independent lives are to be developed through a £2m programme.
Delivered by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Design Council, the Independence Matters programme will see designers, industry, and young people working in partnership with older people to jointly develop and test new systems and services that tackle issues of mobility, nutrition, fitness and keeping connected to friends, family and the younger generation.
According to the TSB, enabling older people to live longer in their own home is a particularly pressing issue. Over 65s will make up 23 per cent of the UK population by 2034, according to the Office for National Statistics, and by 2025 almost 1.5 million people in the UK will be living with an age-related disability.
Independence Matters involves two projects: Home and Away, and Keeping Connected.
The former is expected to generate solutions to help people live independently for longer. The TSB will offer Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) development contracts to enable designers and businesses to work with older adults and third-sector organisations.
The latter will design and deliver designs for technology-enabled systems and services that improve the quality of life of older people, while working in a new way with young people in schools, engaging with older people, designers and industry.
‘Design excels in finding new ways to solve complex social challenges – and they don’t come much more important than helping our current and future ageing population to live healthy, fulfilling and independent lives,’ said David Kester, chief executive of the Design Council. ‘This is not just a “must-do” for our society – it also makes great business sense for designers, service providers and manufacturers to develop new innovations to capitalise on what is a massive and growing global market.’
Further announcements launching the various elements of Independence Matters projects will be made in the coming weeks.
An ageing society presents design opportunities for today’s engineers. Click here to read more.