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Elderly And Vulnerable To Benefit From Seven UKRI Funded Projects

11th Sep 2020
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Seven exciting projects are now being supported by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Here we take a look.

Supporting older people across the UK

No less than seven projects are now being supported by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The projects are intended to help improve the lives of elderly and vulnerable people in our communities, and are run by a range of local authorities, small and large businesses and charities. It’s all about keeping people connected to loved ones and living independently, whilst boosting physical health and mental wellbeing.

What are the seven projects?

It’s a diverse mix including a new community and living lab - a type of specialised modular accommodation for those living with dementia. Constructed in the grounds of Northampton University, it supports people to live independent lives for longer.

The housing is of exceptional quality and design, and some homes will also be built for younger people and families.

Addressing community needs, poverty and loneliness

Other projects include a digital platform that identifies checks and upskills local care providers so they can be matched with those who most need them. The project uses Artificial Intelligence to plan what the biggest needs in the community are and how they will be met.

Another project is in the pipeline that’s aimed at older people who live in house of a poor state of repair. Around 1.6 million elderly homeowners fall into this category, with the aim being to make their properties safer, warmer and more energy efficient. There will also be the opportunity to have spaces created in the home for a live-in carer or support worker, thus improving elderly care whilst helping to reduce isolation and loneliness.

Then there’s the project that looks to tackle fuel poverty. It also addresses the social, economic and physical problems many of us have to deal with as we get older. A professional support worker will visit peoples’ homes and advise them on energy efficiency as well as what adaptations and improvements they could be eligible for specifically. It’s also the ideal chance to build social connections and build self-confidence.

Projects in Scotland and the north of England

In Scotland, a key project that has benefitted from the funding is one which focusses specifically on community cohesion and engagement in three particular neighbourhoods. It looks to improve the residents’ living conditions by updating their homes with new technology so they can remain independent. It also looks at supporting them with financial worries, as well as offering activities that bring social and health benefits.

Looking to the north of England, a brand new Lancashire-based project is seeking to upskill people who work at leisure centres and gyms to go into workplaces and carry out health screenings. Supporting the fight against COVID-19, it helps to better identify issues such as poor work/life balance, back pain and work-related stress.

And last but certainly not least, a project in Greater Manchester has been awarded funding to develop an age-friendly design agency. The agency will offer to market research, design and capacity-building solutions for those who may otherwise shy away from such services. The scheme will also explore the potential for healthy ageing technology products and services, developed around the needs of older people.

Trailblazing the way

All seven projects are building the foundations for UKRI’s healthy ageing challenge, which was unveiled back in September last year. They could potentially attract as much as £40 million of UKRI funding, whilst creating jobs, underpinning the local economic and improving the lives of thousands of older people across the country.

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