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Pathways to Healthy Ageing

Our Homes for Healthy Ageing programme demonstrated the role that innovation, collaboration, and a human-centred approach can play in accelerating the development of healthy, age-friendly homes.

The Connected Places Catapult launched a ‘Homes for Healthy Ageing Programme’ to contribute towards the UK Government’s mission to support older people to live at home independently and more healthily for 5+ years longer.

The two-year flagship programme demonstrated the role that innovation, collaboration, and a human-centred approach can play in accelerating the development of healthy, age-friendly homes. This report shares the experiences, insights and knowledge from the programme.

Pathways to Healthy Ageing
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Oldham aims high with healthier housing

Retrofitting homes can improve quality of life and reduce carbon emissions, and is the focus of a new project to be carried out with one local authority in northern England.
Oldham map view

Healthier and more energy efficient homes are aims for Oldham Council which has teamed up with Connected Places Catapult to try to increase the scope for retrofitting ageing housing stock.

The local authority and its delivery partner Carbon Co-op are keen for more private dwellings in the region to reduce their climate impact, while also improving the wellbeing of residents living in poorly insulated or heated homes.

Specialists from the Catapult begin a six-month study in October to identify local challenges and better understand the scale of the opportunity in Oldham. They will also propose targeted interventions – including innovative approaches to community-based retrofit – and suggest ways in which homeowners could best be engaged to support and promote new ideas.

Oldham was selected by the Catapult as a ‘location partner’ to produce a home retrofit delivery model for local communities, following consultation with a dozen UK local authorities.

“We are very excited by the new partnership with Oldham, which allows us to develop and test a model that we can hopefully scale up for other locations. It promises to help speed up the retrofit of homes for healthy and resilient futures for all, and open up opportunities for jobs and growth across the UK.”
Connected Places Catapult’s Senior Housing Innovation Lead, Dr Rachna Lévêque

The study will also investigate options for the procurement of new financial models for retrofit installations, identify funding options and explore ways of increasing the involvement of local supply chains in the delivery of services.

“To unlock retrofit and support community resilience in the face of climate change, everyone – from tenants, landlords and homeowners to community organisations, investors and policymakers – needs to be involved. We are working with Oldham  Council to try to understand the art of the possible in bringing communities together to achieve a resilient future.”
Connected Places Catapult’s Delivery and Engagement Manager, Alanna Gluck
“We’re doing everything we can to help people save money while doing our bit to help the environment and creating quality new jobs.

Oldham has got a lot of old houses so this project will help us to better understand how we can roll out support to residents.

We’re working hard to make Oldham the greenest borough in Greater Manchester and this is another step in the right direction.”
Cllr Abdul Jabbar, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Resources

Details of a range of suitable interventions to improve the quality of existing housing stock are contained in Connected Places Catapult’s new report Retrofit 2050: Accelerating Homes of the Future for Health and Resilience.

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London Real Estate Forum 2023

Together we will shape better cities

When and where?

Barbican, London
27th - 28th September 2023
9:00am - 6:00pm

Tickets

This event is now complete

Sam Markey, Ecosystem Director, will join the panel titled ‘The rise of Innovation Districts: Knowledge, Inclusion, Growth’ at 15:15 on 27 September, and he will also contribute to the Roundtable on the Power of Partnership.

Dr. Rachna Lévêque, Senior Housing Innovation, will contribute to the Retrofit Roundtable.

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London Build 2023

The UK's leading construction & design show returns at Olympia London

When and where?

Olympia, London
15th - 16th November 2023
9:00am - 6:00pm

Tickets

This event is now complete

Dr. Rachna Lévêque, Senior Housing Innovation Lead, will host a retrofit panel in the Built Environment Hub on 16 November from 11:45, titled ‘Accelerating residential retrofit for health and climate resilience’ and will be joined by retrofit leaders and innovators from Arup, Gbolade Design Studio, and Twin Sustainability Innovation / LETI.

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UK Construction Week 2023

The UK's largest event bringing all parts of the industry together

When and where?

NEC, Birmingham
3rd - 5th October 2023
9:00am - 6:00pm

Tickets

This event is now complete

On Wednesday 4 October (Day 2) from 15:00, we will host our very own Connected Places Catapult panel titled ‘Home Retrofit: Moving beyond EPC to improve health, wellbeing, and climate resilience’. Speakers include Andy Mitchell, Managing Director, Green Building Store; Dr. Rachna Lévêque, Senior Housing Innovation; and Alanna Gluck, Delivery and Engagement Manager, both from Connected Places Catapult.

That same day from 15:15, Gavin Summerson, our Built Environment team lead, is joining the panel titled ‘Beyond the Numbers: Building Trust in Data in the Built Environment’.

Colleagues and SME’s part of our network will be onsite for the duration of the event. Come by our stand to speak with one of our experts and to learn more about our projects and other opportunities.

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Empowering residents with data-driven solutions to combat cold and damp housing

Cold and damp homes have been proven to have damaging impacts on physical and mental health, especially for the most vulnerable groups in society.

For adults over 55 years old, the risks of respiratory conditions from excessively cold living conditions are profound. Beyond physical health, the effects of living in a home with inadequate heating and can result in poorer mental health due to issues like thermal discomfort, persistent worry about the affordability of heating, and potential damage to possessions*. Additionally, the stigma and social isolation that may accompany a cold home can have further detrimental impacts of mental wellbeing.  

The impacts of cold and damp conditions are manifold. According to the Building Research Establishment (BRE), excess cold affects nearly 836,000 homes, and dampness affects 75,000 homes in England. If mitigated, these conditions would save the NHS an estimated £857 million and £38 million per annum, respectively, in treatment bills alone**. For residential landlords, cold and damp conditions can result in the need for additional maintenance, deterioration of building fabric, and strained tenant relationships. For local authorities, cold and damp housing conditions result in a greater demand for services like social care, advice services, and housing services. For health practitioners, the respiratory and cardiovascular health conditions arising from cold housing conditions lead to excess winter deaths. More importantly, cold and damp often hinder a person’s ability to live comfortably and healthily in their own home, which can affect their health, wellbeing, and independence. The seriousness of the cold and damp problem for housing providers and tenants was highlighted by the tragic death of toddler Awaab Ishaak in Rochdale in November 2020.***

Sunderland City Council partnered with Connected Places Catapult through the Homes for Healthy Ageing programme to explore possible solutions that could address or mitigate the impacts of cold and damp housing. The Homes for Healthy Ageing programme explores the UK’s healthy ageing challenges through the nexus of the home. Working collaboratively with local authorities, academia, third sector organisations, and businesses, the programme is delivering five testbeds across the UK to test the impact of innovative solutions to a range of challenges faced by many communities across the UK, including social isolation, housing quality and care provision. 

For cities like Sunderland and others with a growing ageing population, the issues linked to cold homes can be particularly challenging. For Sunderland City Council, tackling this issue is a priority across the housing, health, social care, and community sectors. Sunderland seeks to be proactive in identifying ways of preventing issues and the testbed allowed exploration of solutions, as well as aligning with Sunderland’s Smart City agenda, particularly the ‘healthy smart city’ focus to reduce health inequalities and enable people to live healthier, longer, and more independent lives. 

Trialling data-driven solutions and innovative technologies in testbed environments 

Led by the City’s Ageing Well Board – made up of health, housing, social care and voluntary sector providers – Sunderland City Council created testbed opportunities for 7 SMEs to trial innovative solutions to cold and damp housing conditions and fuel poverty.  Given the complexity of the issue, it was acknowledged early on that there was no single approach that could tackle cold and damp homes. The focus was therefore on trialling a range of replicable and impactful solutions to both progress Sunderland’s healthy ageing agenda, as well as share useful insights and lessons with other local authorities experiencing similar challenges. The solutions tested fall into three distinct approaches to respond the challenge: 

Identification: These solutions used big data at a national and local scale to help the city identify properties impacted, or likely to be impacted, by cold, condensation issues, and fuel poverty

  • Bays Consulting – uses predictive analytics to highlight homes at high risk of cold and damp, and work with Parity Projects to prescribe measures to reduce that risk in the home. 
  • Urban Tide – developed an innovation platform driven by Artificial Intelligence that helps organisations treat data as an asset used to inform business decisions. This data will be used to help energy hubs, local authorities and managing agents to increase the uptake of energy efficiency schemes within certain homes or areas.

Confirmation and management: Sensor-based technologies to validate information from data tools, and to help people understand and manage quality and humidity levels in their homes

  • Solcom – uses a home monitoring system to track movement, detect and identify changes in behaviour that highlights increases in risk to individuals within their living environment. This solution can then inform users on the immediate actions to be taken that can impact the temperature of a room to maintain its warmth. 
  • SORA– uses their indoor air quality monitoring solution to inform residents about the current environment, to create better indoor health for longer independent and healthy living.

Innovative physical interventions: When confirmation or management is not enough, it was important to explore physical solutions that could improve properties’ resilience to cold, mould, and high levels of humidity.

  • AirEx – developed a smart passive ventilation system that uses sensors to detect temperature, humidity, and air quality. This is combined with external weather data to optimise ventilation to prevent damp and mould while managing the thermal performance of the home. 
  • HausBots – uses technology to protect and maintain the built environment. Their HB1 Wall Climbing Robot applies waterproof paint to protect against damp and rain by improving the thermal resistance of masonry. 
  • Gardarica – provides unique solutions in eco-friendly design, landscape architecture and water management. The Gardarica Green System is a solution created to address the problem of cold and damp housing, consisting of green indoor walls, an insulation system and rooftop gardens. 

Applying Connected Places Catapult’s Real-World Testing Framework, the SMEs were able to trial their solutions in several homes across Sunderland and monitor the impact they had on residents. The identification and confirmation solutions were found to empower tenants by educating them and giving them access to data which they could use to better understand their living conditions. Residents were able to take this information to their GPs and have conversations about how their living conditions could be impacting their health. Moreover, social prescribers and housing providers could use this information to keep track of tenants’ housing conditions, and to spark more in-depth conversations around fuel poverty and how tenants could be supported.  

Next steps for Sunderland City Council 

Given the recent global rises in commodity prices for oil, gas, and other inflationary pressures, finding solutions to cold and damp housing is now a national priority forming part of Sunderland City Council’s wider response to the cost-of-living crisis. 

As part of the city’s response, Sunderland is actively promoting the successful solutions which were discovered through the testbed within the council and with external partners. There are also ongoing discussions around how the identification solutions trialled in the testbed may be able to support strategists in identifying households most at risk of experiencing cold and mould, as well as fuel poverty and cost of living issues. 

The Council’s housing team are adopting a fabric first approach to their new build and renovation projects, with the aim of ensuring homes are better insulated and that, where possible, air flow within homes is designed to prevent the build-up of humidity and condensation which are major contributing factors to mould growth. As part of this approach, the Council’s housing team is considering how it may utilise some of the confirmation and management, and physical intervention solutions in their projects. Those innovations, when applied through a multi-faceted approach, may provide some answers to a very complex national problem. 

Gerry Taylor, Executive Director of Health, Housing and Communities at Sunderland City Council, said: 

“Sunderland’s strengths in digital, and our strong collaborative partnerships, mean that we are very well placed to explore new and innovative ways of supporting residents and addressing challenges met by authorities across all corners of the country, setting the bar in proactive support that helps our residents to live well for longer. This programme demonstrates our proactive, positive approach and is just part of a programme of innovation that is ensuring we do all we can to support our communities to thrive.” 

Find out more about the Homes for Healthy Ageing Project here.

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Homes for Healthy Ageing

The Homes for Healthy Ageing programme demonstrates the role that innovation, collaboration and a human-centred approach can play in accelerating the development of healthy, age-friendly homes and neighbourhoods.

About the project

By 2050, 1 in 4 people in the UK will be over 65. As our population rapidly ages, we will need to ensure that our homes and neighbourhoods can support the health and wellbeing of older adults across the UK.   

But 80% of the homes that we will be living in by 2050 have already been built, so housing providers and place makers will need to find innovative ways to retrofit homes and create healthier, age-friendly places.  

We believe that the UK’s built environment and healthcare sectors can meet the needs of our ageing society by asking the right questions about the complex challenges facing older people and working together to develop more impactful and integrated solutions. 

To put this approach into practice, we developed a Real-World Testing Framework that brings stakeholders from local government, the built environment, healthcare, and academia together to identify, trial, and showcase innovative solutions to healthy ageing challenges in a safe, real-world environment. 

We are demonstrating the impact of this approach with testbeds in Northern Ireland, Sunderland, Leeds, Brighton, and Essex. With hands-on support and access to the latest innovation from UK businesses, our partners are gaining a better understanding of their local challenges and discovering new ways to tackle them.  

By adopting an innovative and collaborative approach, the UK can begin to deliver homes and neighbourhoods that not only support the health and wellbeing of older adults but enable them to thrive.  

What is real world testing?

Real-world testing is an approach that enables stakeholders to develop, test, and showcase new or existing products and services that tackle real place-based challenges in a real-world, physical environment.

  • We help stakeholders define and understand their local healthy ageing challenges.  
  • We connect stakeholders with the most innovative and appropriate solutions to tackle their local challenges.  
  • We help stakeholders create a safe space to test innovative products and services and gather evidence on the impact they can achieve in a real-world setting.  
  • We provide hands-on support with running open calls, deploying solutions, and measuring impact.  

Five testbeds and challenges

Contact the project team

For more information on this project, contact homesforhealthyageing@cp.catapult.org.uk

Partners

Learn about the Northern Ireland testbed here. 

Learn about the Sunderland testbed here. 

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Digital innovation for healthy ageing: social isolation and loneliness in Northern Ireland

A number of Northern Ireland institutions and organisations joined forces in 2021 to take a multisectoral approach to address social isolation and loneliness as part of Connected Places Catapult’s Homes for Healthy Ageing programme.

By 2050, the percentage of the UK population aged 65 and over is projected to increase to 25%[1]. As such, there is a need to adopt more innovative approaches to reduce the risk of social isolation and loneliness, create meaningful opportunities for social connectedness, and promote a greater sense of belonging among our ageing population 

Social relationships are an important part of people’s health and wellbeing. They have the potential to increase people’s happiness, comfort, and resilience. This is especially important among older adults who are at significant risk of loneliness due to factors such as decreased mobility, limited social networks, and deteriorating health. 

In Northern Ireland, chronic loneliness affects 1 in 20 people[2]. Given the prominence of this issue in the region, a number of Northern Ireland institutions and organisations joined forces in 2021 to take a multisectoral approach to addressing this challenge as part of Connected Places Catapult’s Homes for Healthy Ageing programme. The programme aims to demonstrate the role that innovation, collaboration and a human-centred approach can play in accelerating the development of healthy, age-friendly homes and neighbourhoods. 

As one of the five location partners funded by Connected Places Catapult, the Northern Ireland consortium was made up of: 

  • Ulster University
  • Belfast City Council
  • Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC)
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • Age NI
  • Public Health Agency NI
  • Health Innovation Research Alliance NI (HIRANI)  
  • Market Development Association (MDA)

Together, the consortium delivered a testbed in Belfast to test and demonstrate the impact of innovative technologies and solutions addressing social isolation and loneliness among older adults.  

A testbed is an environment for trailing innovative and ambitious ideas in real-life settings, enabling places and innovators to discover what does and doesn’t work in a safe environment before iterating and scaling up. Ten UK businesses were given the opportunity to participate in the Northern Ireland testbed, to trial and showcase their products and services, using Connected Places Catapult’s Real World Testing Framework. 

Understanding the challenge area 

The consortium set out to address the challenge areas of ‘physical and mental health’ and ‘community and social environment’ to improve the health, wellbeing and independence of older adults. The aim was to identify innovative ways of enhancing social connections among older adults living in urban and rural areas of Northern Ireland, using digital technology. 

The consortium engaged with older adults and local experts in the community to gather useful insights on the most prominent challenges facing socially isolated older adults. The testbed explored three issues: 

  • how to create tailored approaches that allow older adults to develop meaningful connections 
  • how to rebuild the confidence of older adults who have lost their social activities/hobbies due to COVID-19; and 
  • how to remove the barriers of getting online for older adults who would benefit from being digitally connected. 

Real-world testing: 10 digital solutions   

Ten businesses were selected, following an open call, to join the Northern Ireland testbed. They tested their solutions with older adults from the local community over a 1-3-month period. A few of the companies ran a ‘demo day’, which was attended by over 80 older adults, where they presented their solutions and received useful feedback on their products and services from the people they were designed to support. 

  • Thriving AI: a digital application that enables integrated care communication, coordination & monitoring 
  • Walk With Path: wearable technology with online coaching and community building around physical exercise 
  • Civic Dollars: a community currency app that encourages users to be more active by incentivising activity 
  • Ethel Care: a digital platform that supports remote care for vulnerable people 
  • Kraydel: a TV-based service that enables social connectivity and internet of things monitoring 
  • Treasured Times: an easy-to-use digital application keeping families connected 
  • Living in Fitness: health and quality of life through exercise classes 
  • Companiions: a platform providing a simple, trusted way for people to arrange support, assistance and company from a pool of local, trusted, and vetted companions 
  • Storii: a platform helping people to build life stories and connect with loved ones, 
  • Wanatok: an app that brings people together in person to talk in real-time in their current location.

Throughout the process, the businesses learnt and got advice from experts within the region, including the Loneliness Forum, Queen’s University, Ulster University, and Age NI. The opportunity to engage directly with older adults was a notable part of the testbed experience, as the businesses were able to gain a better understanding of the lived experiences of socially isolated adults in Northern Ireland, and challenge their assumptions on characteristics amendable to older adults in a digital product or service. These insights enabled them to improve or add additional functionalities, helping them improve their solution for specific user groups and cater to a wider range of end users. 

On 17th June 2022, the Northern Ireland consortium hosted a successful in-person showcase event. This event brought together local stakeholders (including community leaders, commissioners, academics, and health and social care experts) to learn more about the Homes for Healthy Ageing Programme and the innovative solutions brought forward by businesses. It was also a great opportunity to network with the businesses and hear valuable insights from the testbed.

Next steps for the consortium 

The Homes for Healthy Ageing programme was well-aligned with Belfast City Council’s Smart Belfast: Urban Innovation Framework which seeks to bring universities, businesses, local government, and citizens to collaborate, innovate and experiment using cutting-edge technologies and data science. 

The next step for the consortium is to work together to expand on the testbed learnings and insights to find ways to create new opportunities for businesses to test and scale their solutions in Northern Ireland.  

It’s been a great experience for us in Belfast to work with Connected Places Catapult. It’s been a fantastic collaboration and we’ve all brought together various skills and energy to the project. We hope that the relationship will continue on to further projects to benefit the city and our citizens  
Deirdre Ferguson of Belfast City Council
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AAA ISO Leaders Forum

Join us on 26 October at the next Leaders Forum.

We’ll be bringing insight and opportunities from our Homes for Health Ageing Programme testbeds, and our work with SMEs in this space.

Hear from Erin Walsh, Director of Built Environment and Natalie Record, Ecosystem Director for Homes and Housing at Connected Places Catapult who will host two panels to discuss how the built environment industry can harness innovation from UK businesses to improve the lives of our ageing population.

If you are an SME involved in the programme join us on the day to hear more from inspiring speakers, meet potential investors and be part of the creation of smart multigenerational neighbourhoods.