2015

Unique Public-Private partnership to launch consumer awareness campaign in the West Midlands to support independent living

launch photo 1

Today sees the launch of the AT Home campaign (www.athome.uk.com) supported by Naidex, the UK’s leading event for independent living and disability. The campaign is being launched at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Bournemouth. It will use a range of channels and media and will encourage people to think about how independent living and mobility equipment, also known as Assistive Technology, can help people to continue to live independently in a healthy and safe environment at home.
Communications will be aimed at people aged 55+ who are thinking about later life but might not have experienced any major daily living difficulties as yet.
Research has consistently confirmed that awareness of Assistive Technology is very low, held back by a combination of factors, including the historical dominance of this sector by the State. A recent study led by Coventry University found that 60% of consumers questioned said that lack of awareness was a barrier to greater use/purchase of Assistive Technology. However the same research also found that 85% felt that the costs of purchasing were worth it given that it would make life easier*. This demonstrates that people are willing to pay, from their own pockets, for products and services, provided that they feel it will help.
This initiative aims to reach people whilst they might still be termed a ‘consumer’, before their needs increase and to help prevent them from tipping over to becoming ’a patient’ or service user.
In England almost a third of the population are aged 55+ and an estimated 4.7m people aged 65+ have a limiting longstanding illness that affects them in some way, this equates to 48% of all people aged 65+**. In many instances Assistive Technology, when used as part of a wider package, can help maintain independence, enabling people to live longer in their own familiar home surroundings, thereby potentially helping to avoid having to consider moving into specialist housing or a care home in later life.
Commenting on the launch of the campaign Linda Sanders, the ADASS National lead for Assistive Technology said:
“The 14 local authorities in the West Midlands have come together to support this campaign to raise awareness of the simple bits of technology that are available from the high street to assist people to remain independent at home and to prevent them from relying on much stretched public services.”
Ian James the West Midlands chair of ADASS added “This is a great example of councils collaborating together to promote a simple message across our region about what friends and relatives can do to help their loved ones stay at home and maintain their independence without needing to involve council services .”
Matthew Tingey, Naidex Event Director commented “Last year Naidex allocated a fund to its Ambassador panel, made up of senior figures representing the public sector, businesses, the British Association of Occupational Therapists and voluntary organisations working in the sector so that they could tackle a burning issue of their choice. After debating a number of potential initiatives Ambassadors kept returning to the compelling issue of raising public awareness. As the preeminent show in sector, Naidex is delighted to be supporting this campaign and hope that this will be the beginning of something much greater.”

Notes to Editors:  About ADASS West Midlands/ Improvement and Efficiency West Midlands (IEWM):
Improvement and Efficiency West Midlands (IEWM) is the brand name of the West Midlands Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (WM RIEP). The West Midlands RIEP was set up in April 2008 following the publication of the National Improvement and Efficiency Strategy (NIES) by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG). The IEWM Programme has continued to operate independently of the national RIEP Programme since April 2011 when the National Programme Office and associated funding ceased. Our role is to work on behalf of the sector to:
-help stimulate and influence new thinking and innovation;
-support and enable sector collaboration;
-mobilise sector-led improvement activities and;
-promote and encourage engagement in new ways of working in all major areas including transformation, commissioning, procurement, adult social care and children’s services.
We are a sector-led organisation that supports local authorities and their wider public sector partners to reform and transform local public services.
IEWM works closely with the West Midlands’ branch of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and has a Joint Improvement Programme that provides support to councils in the region through a sector led approach.

About Naidex (www.naidex.co.uk)
Naidex is the UK’s leading event for the Independent Living and Disability sector, which has been running for 41 years. Healthcare professionals, manufacturers, retailers, government and local authority representatives, carers, end-users and their families attend Naidex each year to keep up to date with developments in the industry, seek advice, up-skill, share best practice and source innovative new products to improve lives. It is the UK’s largest independent living and mobility show and is the only national exhibition which combines consumers, health and social care professionals, alongside business (products and services) professionals under one roof. A conference programme of free seminars across the theatres offers FREE learning and the latest thinking from leading specialists.

For more information contact:
Naidex Ambassador Coordinator – David Silver 07860 672361 david.silver@yearsahead.co.uk
ADASS/IEWM West Midlands – Maggie Sybilska, 0845 352 7017 m: 07827 894 602, msybilska@westmidlandsiep.gov.uk

*Based upon research conducted as part of Coventry University’s COMODAL project (www. http://comodal.co.uk/)
**The estimate is for the England only, based on data from the Institute of Public Care

Unique Public-Private partnership to launch consumer awareness campaign in the West Midlands to support independent living

2014

House of Lords report asks are we ‘Ready for Ageing?’

What do you think about growing older and being old? Is it something you dread because of your experiences of working with older people who have become ill and frail? Are you looking forward to retiring from paid employment and putting your feet up? Do you prefer not to think about it all?

The recently published House of Lords report Ready for Ageing? (Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change, 2013) is timely and presents a cogent argument for some fresh thinking about how we plan and develop public services in light of our ageing population. It challenges preconceptions and stereotypes of older people, and highlights the many ways they continue to contribute to society after retirement. The report makes a case for Government to take urgent action to develop new policies and adapt institutional systems for a very different kind of future in which many more of us will be living longer, healthier lives. It presents the usual population projections, which, although compelling, are now well rehearsed and familiar. More unusually, this report counters many of the ‘burden of old age’ cliches with insights into prevailing attitudes among older people about their lived experiences, and it calls for a change to rigid ‘age-defined’ policies and services.

As well as spelling out the financial implications of demographic change, the report raises important questions about the types of longer lives we will lead in the future. How we will maximise older people’s participation in the workforce, civic life and society, and how well we will support people in ill health or frailty. Many of these themes resonated with me as an occupational therapist with an interest in how we manage and maintain our autonomy into great old age. It strikes me that this report gives all allied healthcare practitioners (AHP) an ideal opportunity to reflect on their current roles and to start thinking about what it means for their practice, and the potential for innovation and new types of services.

For example, reflecting on the following statement:

‘..evidence that a new system of health and social care is needed to be more focused on prevention, early diagnosis, intervention, and managing long-term conditions to prevent degeneration, with much less use of acute hospitals.’ I found myself thinking, ‘How many times have we read that we need more prevention?’ It has been a watchword in the NHS for decades, but this report suggests the need for more creative approaches that take better account of how older people are really living in the 21st Century. It points out that human nature leads us to bury our heads in the sand rather than deal realistically with living into great old age. This tells me that there’s an education and persuasion job to be done, and approaches such as Lifestyle Redesign, notably pioneered by Florence Clark and others in California (Jackson et al, 1998) and Professor Gail Mountain in the UK (Mountain and Craig, 2008), will have growing relevance. These approaches uniquely reconnect us with our occupational selves in the context of our ageing bodies, so that we can keep doing all those things that are important to us. As evidence of the role physical activity plays in maintaining health in old age grows, this must be a crucial area of interest for research in the future.

Ready for Ageing? challenges but also gives us hope. There is undoubtedly even more radical change ahead, but I for one think that AHPs are in the vanguard.

House of Lords report asks are we ‘Ready for Ageing?’

2014

Rating and Review Scheme takes further steps towards realisation

We continue to work with Newcastle University, through our Better Living Trust, to progress the concept of a Rating and Review scheme for assistive products. The initiative has been taken up as a case study for the University’s SALT project (Sustainable models for Assistive Living Technologies). This is a three year research programme which has been set up in recognition of the need to stimulate and develop the ALT market. As a key part of this is to build consumer awareness and trust a Rating and Review Scheme was seen as highly relevant.

SALT researchers have been busy and have now undertaken a series of workshops with older people to find out what kind of scheme they would find helpful and have presented their insights to others from industry, commercial and professional backgrounds. They will use the data obtained from these interactive sessions to design a prototype Rating and Review website. Colleagues from the University’s Business school will also develop a working prototype web site that could be used in a future scheme.

The outputs from the SALT project are due to be disseminated in the summer of 2014.

Rating and Review Scheme takes further steps towards realisation

2013

Exciting new initiative announced!

The Institute for Ageing and Health (IAH) at Newcastle University and Years Ahead Partnership have secured funding for a feasibility study to explore the potential for an accreditation and approval scheme for Independent Living products and services. The initiative is the result of discussions between the two organisations about how they could best work together to raise awareness of the benefits that these products offer to older people.

The aim of any scheme, which will also receive expert input from the University’s Business School, will be to encourage suppliers, manufacturers and retailers to consider the needs of the consumer, by ensuring that products and services are tested and accredited by the people they are designed for, ahead of being launched. Whilst some approval schemes exist in specialist areas, e.g. RNIB, there is no widely recognised mark that consumers can turn to, to give them confidence that an independent living product or service has been reviewed by older people – as expert users – and meet certain standards.

Once underway the study will consult with a wide cross-section of stakeholders from Industry, Retailing, Government, Third Sector organisations and consumer groups to ensure that any scheme gains wide-ranging support.

Financial support for the feasibility study has been received from the government’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme (KTP). KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base.

The Partners welcome any expressions of interest and enquiries.

Exciting new initiative announced!

2013

Years Ahead supports Designing for the Future initiative

We are pleased to support The Future Perfect Company Ltd’s Designing for the Future scheme, in partnership with Brighton University.

This aims to set up an innovative, nationwide skills development project that will support new designers in the field of design for older people, spanning products, services and spaces.

The project will build skills capacity in this under-served sector, showcase innovative practice, and build a mentoring and support network. More information about the project to date can be found here.

The scheme has now been running for several years and is beginning to see some results; with one participant winning the Future Pioneer Award from the Design Council and another a residency at the Design Museum to further develop her project.

Years Ahead supports Designing for the Future initiative