INNOVAGE: Developing and implementing social innovations to improve quality of life and well-being in later life

Project Lead and contact details: 
Stuart Parker

CLAHRC SY Health Inequalities theme members, together with colleagues in the Obesity, Translating Knowledge to Action, User Centered Healthcare Design themes, have been awarded £250K for their part of a collaborative, multi-national and multi-disciplinary three year programme of work dedicated to developing, evaluating and implementing novel social innovations that will impact on improving the quality of life and well-being of older people. Funding is via the  European Union FP7-Health-2012-Innovation call, and projects started on December 1st 2012. The programme comprises work packages in seven EU countries, with projects focussing on housing provision, physical activity, functional health and well-being of older people, and social support for their carers. The Sheffield-based project is about 'Improving Obesity Related Outcomes in Old Age’.  

Using qualitative and quantitative research methods and a programme ofuser-centred healthcare design activities involving participants in the ‘South Yorkshire Cohort’, weare developing an intervention that promotes playful inter and intra-generational interactions around healthy and active ageing, exploring the potential of using new and emerging digital, sensor and social networking technologies.  Inter and intra-generational interactions have been identified as a key factor in developing and maintaining the transmission and exchange of knowledge, beliefs, values and resources between the generations. Through utilising social networks and new technologies to facilitate these interactions we aim to reduce the prevalence of obesity in youth and middle age so that a smaller proportion of people reach old age with problematic obesity.

It is anticipated that the social innovation may achieve its highest impact in populations with the greatest disease burden (usually among the over 50s), and a more immediate impact on those with high BMI, and especially those with diabetes. Even with small percentage changes initially, both impacts will potentially contribute incrementally to reductions in obesity needed by individuals, health systems and society and improvements in healthy life expectancy across Europe and beyond.