- 12 July 2018
- Posted in: Healthcare, Science & Technology
Earlier this year the UK government identified that radical action is required to meet the growth in our ageing population and made this challenge one of the core themes in it’s industrial strategy. Delegates attending the Ageing Population: Meeting Needs Through Innovation event explored how innovation in the health and social care system, in many forms, is needed to ensure we can thrive in our later lives.
The Centre of Ageing Better’s Jemma Mouland opened by outlining the scale of the crisis, with a rapid and significant change in our democratic the UK will see one in four children born today live to 100 years old. Rather than spending 15 years in retirement as per previous generations we are now living different life courses with some 25-30 years in retirement.
“Well documented pressures on the system are going to increase beyond recognition in the next 15 years.”
Mouland stressed that solution providers should pay attention to this market demographic, currently people over 50 hold 77% of wealth in the UK and account for 48% of household expenditure. Marketing is too often targeted at younger audiences and product design is far from aspirational for want people want in their homes.
“How do we design our homes so that they allow us to stay in the places we want to stay?”
Design Council’s Head of Social Innovation, Jo Gajtkowska, expanded on this theme discussing the Transform Ageing project that aims to reimagine what later life can look like. The three-year programme in the South West is rooted in co-design, collaboration between stakeholders and people-centred innovation. The project is looking to shift what’s happening in the care system and make a real impact by changing patterns of commissioning, purchasing and choice.
In the opening address Mouland, Senior Programme Manager for Innovation, stressed that significant inequalities do exist in ageing populations and that need to be recognised this and addressed when developing innovations. Thomas Scharf, Professor at the Institute of Health and Society, expanded on inequalities detailing recent research conducted by Newcastle University and The International Longevity Centre UK. The research explored inequalities in people over 50 in England across physical and mental health; life expectancy; subjective wellbeing; social connections; financial security and living environments.
The research found that some birth cohorts may become more unequal over time of the life course, events of early life – such as health, education and socioeconomic factors – have a major influence in shaping later life outcomes. Scharf said that innovation must consider the entire life course and that the needs of birth cohorts may vary over time. The scale and nature of inequalities mean that the groups must likely to benefit from interventions are not receiving them.
“Those that have the most to gain from cardiovascular screening are the least likely to participate in screenings.”
The audience later learnt how our workforce will need to adopt to recruit and retain older workers, and how innovation was helping to transform our housing, support independent living, and improve health and social care provision.