Day centre visitors are not usually first in line to try the latest smartphone technology, but volunteers over the age of 60 in Leeds are among early adopters of an app that encourages healthy living.
Participants from the OPAL community group use the ‘Active Orbit’ app to track their journeys on foot and claim rewards for the distance travelled, such as discounts at a local café. Businesses who sponsor the initiative can also donate a sum of money to the centre based on volunteers’ collective effort.
Not only does the app reward users for keeping active, but it helps to foster a greater sense of community among those taking part, explains its founder Rachel Flower. She adds that the testbed challenge was: ‘How might we support older adults to take part in more physical activity?’
“But it also became apparent that the app can help reduce social isolation and loneliness too by encouraging people to talk to each other about their experiences, make new friends and engage in healthy competition.”
Rachel was welcomed on to Connected Places Catapult’s Homes for Healthy Ageing programme last year following an open call for SMEs with innovative ideas to get in touch to help improve social connections and wellbeing in local communities. She received a grant of £10,000 and access to a network of specialists as part of the programme’s testbed working alongside Leeds City Council.