27/08/2021

Trial Of Innovative New Approach To Tackle Isolation And Loneliness

An innovative new approach to tackle isolation and loneliness in older people is to be trialled in Belfast.

Communities in the Markets area of the city will be taking part in the project this autumn – an initiative of the £2.5 million Connected Places Catapult 'Homes for Healthy Ageing' Programme - with an additional testbed being created in a rural location outside of the city.

The testbeds will provide community-centred and real-world scenarios for local innovators to trial and develop the most promising solutions to address challenges in healthy ageing.

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Kate Nicholl said: "With the over-65 demographic set to rise to one quarter of the UK population by 2050, this programme will work directly with people to explore their needs and to consider how the latest ideas and technologies can help. It's a welcome opportunity to tap into world-leading research from business and universities and test these ideas in a real-life setting.

"The project is part of Belfast's Smart district, a place where partners from industry, academia, government and communities work together to develop innovative solutions to major urban challenges associated with health, mobility and decarbonisation."

A Northern Ireland consortium made up of Belfast City Council, Age NI, Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC), Markets Development Association (MDA), Public Health Agency NI, Queen's University Belfast, the Health Innovation Research Alliance (HIRANI) and Ulster University, is one of two UK partners selected for the programme, and has secured £50,000.

Over the next two years, the NI consortium and a similar consortium in Sunderland aim to address the Government's Grand Challenge Mission to ensure people live longer in their homes and enjoy healthy, active lives as they age.
News Image
The Northern Ireland consortium's funding will support a dedicated task force responsible for ensuring the effective rollout of the local testbed. As well as gaining access to the tools, user insights and know-how needed, they'll be able to draw on Catapult's network of key changemakers who'll help guide their healthy ageing strategies and drive real change for their communities.

Professor Joan Condell, Ulster University, lead partner of the Northern Ireland consortium said: "The strength and depth of this delivery consortium will be of great benefit to the active community of businesses addressing the needs of healthy ageing through their products and services. As the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, the consortium sees the testbed as a great opportunity to cement Northern Ireland as a centre for innovation and research, addressing key societal challenges."

Natalie Record, Housing Innovation Lead, Connected Places Catapult added: "The UK is waking up to the very immediate need not only for innovative thinking, but for a clear roadmap around home- and place-based solutions that build a healthier future for all. After a long research stage that has helped us build a fuller picture of the current challenges to healthy ageing across the UK, I'm really excited to see what real-world insights we can gather from our first two testbeds."

Connected Places Catapult will launch a total of five testbeds over two phases that will enable location partners and UK innovators to trial and develop the most promising solutions to address national challenges in Healthy Ageing locally in community-centred, real-world scenarios. The learnings and outcomes will then form the basis of a business case for future funding opportunities and support.

As the Homes for Healthy Ageing programme enters its first testing phase, Connected Places Catapult is inviting SMEs to learn more about challenges to healthy ageing and opportunities for innovation, and funding opportunities available. There are two upcoming webinars on 1 September and 15 September. To find out more and register, visit www.smartbelfast.city


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

19 October 2021
Dennis Hutchings Dies At Mater Hospital
Dennis Hutchings, the ex-soldier who had been on trial over a fatal shooting in County Tyrone in 1974, has died at the Mater Hospital in Belfast. Mr Hutchings (80) – who was from Cornwall and an ex-member of the Life Guards regiment – was undergoing a non-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court, accused of the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham.
19 November 2020
Active Ageing Strategy Extended Until 2022
The Executive's Active Ageing Strategy has been extended to May 2022, Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has announced. The Strategy has a vision 'of being an age friendly region in which people as they get older, are valued and supported to live actively to their fullest potential; with their rights respected and their dignity protected'.
07 July 2021
Support Measures For Taxi Industry Backed
The NI Assembly has given its backing to a motion calling for measures to support the taxi industry. Welcoming support of the motion, Chair of the Infrastructure Committee Jonathan Buckley said: "The Covid pandemic has taken a significant toll on the taxi industry, but they face continued challenges coming out of lockdown.
19 July 2021
UK Govt And The EU Must Re-Negotiate NI Protocol
Both the UK government and the EU must re-negotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol. DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP made the call after he held a virtual meeting with European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic. Speaking afterwards Sir Jeffrey said: "My message was simple. The Protocol has not worked.
12 October 2021
UK Govt Must Eliminate Protocol Trade And Constitutional Problems
The UK government must eliminate both the trade and constitutional problem of the NI Protocol, DUP Peer Lord Dodds has said.