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Nesta cites Mindings as innovate technology to combat loneliness in seniors

Nesta, the National Lottery-backed National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, have been for some time supporting innovations that enable significant numbers of older people to have a purpose, sense of wellbeing and to feel at home and connected to others.

Nesta’s Home Lab brings together their practical work on health and ageing to achieve more impact – testing and scaling new ideas in people-powered and data-driven health.:

  • New sources of support – to make it possible for people to be more involved in their health

  • New sources of data – to improve people’s knowledge about their health

  • New sources of innovation – that can generate new solutions

Nesta on Social Isolation and Loneliness

Today, Nesta’s Katie Mountain wrote about an issue close to our heart, ‘Social Isolation and Loneliness’ in an article entitled: Are older people becoming prisoners of isolation?

Katie says:

isolation is a huge problem among our older population. Nearly 1 in 5 older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week; and for 1 in 10 it’s less than once a month.  Half of all older people in the UK, about 5 million, say the television is their main company.

The article highlights the issues of the growing senior population, and the problems that local authorities – who are responsible or funding and deploying social care – have in offering services

Over 70% of councils only offer homecare services to those with ‘substantial or critical needs’. Only last week the charity, Leonard Cheshire, found that many people only received 15 minute care visits, often for essential care such as being washed, dressed and given breakfast.

This point personally resonates as this is a service my own father receives – a 15-minute morning service in which a helper gets him out of bed, washed and dressed, helped downstairs and made a cup of tea. That fifteen minutes may be my Dad’s only human contact that day, and unfortunately with such a lot to be done in such a short period of time there isn’t much time for conversation.

Mindings and Loneliness

Katie suggests a possible solution:

Elsewhere in UK life we already have and use web and mobile technology to create a hyper-connected society – video-conferencing with Skype; social networking with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – many of us are always on, always in touch 24/7. And these innovative technologies are starting to be applied to the problem of loneliness.

This, of course, is what Mindings endeavours to do – use apps and simple devices to help bring social connection to technology-shy seniors.

The article concludes:

… Mindings (is a) great example of using technology to enable better communication between families living apart… Simple, accessible, effective solutions such as these can have a huge and lasting impact on society.

Check out the great work Nesta are doing in the field of Dementia, with their Dementia Citizens project.

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