Background: An ageing population

The UK is undergoing a demographic shift with potentially far-reaching consequences for society, the economy and public service provision. A vastly improved life expectancy – one of the great triumphs of the previous century – looks set to be one of the great challenges of this one. 

Today, for the first time in history, Britain’s over-65s outnumber people under the age of 16. By 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) predicts that people aged over 50 will make up almost one third (32%) of the workforce and nearly half (47%) the adult population, with 15.5 million people aged 65 and over.

As a consequence, there will be a huge increase in demand for already stretched health and social care services, while the number of people of working age will stagnate or shrink, causing gaps in the job market and further pressure on public finances.

What is needed

New innovations and solutions are required. These must support the delivery of effective services that meet people’s needs, foster preventative approaches that tackle causes rather than symptoms and help people to be better prepared for the challenges of later life. We need to create a system that is more personalised, more connected and above all more preventative. In order to achieve this, there needs to be wider collaboration between individuals and carers, family and friends, neighbours, volunteers and professionals. 

Helping people in later life have an improved experience of ageing

This new, cross-sector partnership will bring together people in later life, social entrepreneurs and health and social care leaders to define, develop and deliver new, people-centred solutions that better support the needs and aspirations of our ageing communities. 

Initially based in south-west England, the programme will help local people to identify, develop and scale effective innovations for a healthy, active and prosperous later life. Using Design Council’s 'Framework for Innovation', the programme will adopt a design-led approach which will help to ensure the best solutions available reach people in later life as quickly as possible.

What’s new about this approach?

Bringing together people in later life with social entrepreneurs and health and social care leaders will create people-centred innovation in products and services, in the places they are needed.

Our Framework for Innovation will adopt a knowledge-based, design-led, collaborative approach to reimagine what it means to have a good later life. This programme will transform the experience of ageing, foster systemic change and create a replicable, sustainable model for services in the south-west and potentially across the country.


Who is involved in the programme and why?

In order to connect social entrepreneurs, health and social care leaders and people in later life, the programme needs to use the expertise of its partners to encourage new ways of thinking, working and new behaviours.

The Transform Ageing programme will be delivered through a partnership led by Design Council, alongside UnLtd - the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, the South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN) and the Centre for Ageing Better

Together, this partnership brings a unique know-how and set of experiences, including an impressive collective track record in supporting community-led responses to ageing challenges.


What will the programme achieve?

The programme aims to ensure that the best innovations reach people in later life as quickly as possible and positively transform their experience of ageing. Through convening social entrepreneurs, health and social care leaders, people in later life and their support network, we will catalyse new ways of working and new behaviours in a drive to reimagine and redesign support for a healthy and active later life; thereby promoting and enabling effective, people-centred, design-led innovation in products and services.

The programme will:

  • Enable people in later life and their support network to feel more able to contribute to how and what services are commissioned in their community
  • Support social entrepreneurs to develop new ventures and scale or replicate existing ones that meet the needs of  people in later life
  • Develop local products and services that better meet the needs of people in later life and their support network
  • Support social entrepreneurs to have a closer understanding, better language and strategies for navigating challenging commissioning markets
  • Provide health and social care leaders with clear intelligence on how to foster closer relationships with people in later life and their network and how to effectively commission social entrepreneurs
  • Convene a national network of supporters to contribute to and learn from our work

By placing people in later life at the heart of the design process, the programme aims to actively engage their insight, thereby increasing their influence and support to deliver solutions which will better meet their needs. In turn, Transform Ageing will support commissioners to feel more confident in incorporating new services and interventions into mainstream care supply chains, and social entrepreneurs to scale their effective solutions more sustainably.

The programme will identify effective, replicable and sustainable solutions to improve the experience of ageing. By applying design-led principles to service provision, commissioning and product and service innovation, the programme will help transform the experience of ageing for people in later life, reduce the strain on public spending, and transform products and services to ensure effective and efficient later-life care for the UK’s population.

How will it work?

The programme will initially convene people in later life and their friends and families, with health and social care leaders and social entrepreneurs in Cornwall, Somerset and Devon to collaboratively explore challenges associated with ageing that resonate in each of these communities. 

Through a design-led process, using Design Council’s 'Framework for Innovation', we will gather insight and collectively shape innovation briefs for social entrepreneurs to provide innovative product and service solutions to the identified challenges.

The programme will then:

  • Reach out locally and nationally to social entrepreneurs to submit product and service ideas addressing the identified innovation briefs that will bring new thinking and solutions to address the identified challenges in the existing system
  • Provide a range of dedicated support to the selected social entrepreneurs to develop and scale their ideas, including financial awards of between £1,000 and £50,000 based upon the size, stage and scale of social venture
  • Drive the adoption of these ideas, supporting successful social entrepreneurs to engage with consumers and commissioners to improve services and drive adoption
  • Develop a National Knowledge and Learning Network, convening partners to both inform our approach and share our journey
  • Create a self-sustaining legacy in the local community and enable locally based supporters to pass on learning and experience to each other through a peer-to-peer support network

Get involved

Who will be involved?

This programme will bring together experienced leadership, local knowledge and experts in social innovation and design. It will help to identify opportunities where innovative new services and products can be aligned with existing programmes and infrastructure to create improved outcomes for people in later life.

The programme will mobilise social entrepreneurs, health and social care leaders and people in local communities through design-led processes to catalyse local solutions. Working at speed, the programme will encourage new behaviours and support the creation of innovative products and services that people in later life want in the places they are needed – meaning everyone will benefit.

Why the south-west?

The programme will initially be based in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.

Once this pilot has been successfully rolled out, the Transform Ageing programme will aim to be replicated in other areas of the country.

How can I get involved?

Over the coming months, the partnership will be engaging local health and social care leaders, voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations and social entrepreneurs, and people in later life and their support networks to become involved in the programme.

We will initially be recruiting participants for the programme from the above groups, organisations in the south-west to support delivery and members for a National Advisory Board.

We are looking for committed groups and individuals who would like to support new thinking and approaches to develop new and exciting products and services that will transform people's experience of later life.

If you would like to find out more and get involved, contact transformageing@designcouncil.org.uk.