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Celebrating Transform Ageing three years on: legacy, learning and what the future might hold

Celebrating Transform Ageing three years on: legacy, learning and what the future might hold

17 February 2020 Written by By Jo Gajtkowska Head of Social Innovation (2018-2019)

Over 135 people from around the UK will gather in London on the 27th February to celebrate the completion of Transform Ageing, a three year, National Lottery Community funded initiative designed to reimagine how we involve and bring together, people in later life, community organisations, social entrepreneurs and public sector leaders to innovate and create inclusive products and services for us all as we age.

At Design Council, we do a lot of work around an ageing society. As well as Transform Ageing, our built environment experts and design associates make up a professional network of over 450 specialists promoting the value and benefits of good inclusive design. Our Spark accelerator programme takes to market products to support people to continue to live independently in their homes and our Design in the Public Sector programme has supported over 70 teams to improve local government services, many of those serving people in later life.

Over the past week or two, we’ve also used this expertise to both convene and be part of several strategic sessions to support the dialogue on an ageing society. Our Chief Executive, Sarah Weir OBE, appeared before the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee giving evidence on how the role of technology can play helping older people maintain independence and Cat Drew, our Chief Design Officer, convened the Local Government Innovation Network to take a look at ‘why bother funding systems change’ using some of our learning from Transform Ageing to inform the debate.

And it’s timely also, that we are celebrating our successes, legacy and learning on Transform Ageing as part of this, through stories from those that were closest to it, panel discussions and three open sessions which take a sneak peek at how we might do things differently in the future to be speculative and dare I say, provocative in relation to what might come next in the later life landscape. 

So, we’ll be looking at answering questions like…

  • What’s coming up next in the field of ageing and later life?
  • What do we all need to do in order to fund successful place based, system wide initiatives more flexibly in the future?
  • How might we partner more effectively with people in later life as part of place-based approaches?
  • What would a future vision for later life look like? Who else becomes relevant to this future? What would they be doing?

What has made Transform Ageing different is that we aimed to work as part of a design-led, vibrant system, connecting partners in London with those in the south west of England. Those partners included, UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, the South West Academic Health Science Network and the Centre for Ageing Better. None of this work would have been possible without our local community organisations who were our eyes and ears on the ground, facilitating connections and bringing together a range of assets from across the local system. And of course, enabling us to better work, side by side, with people in later life.

As part of the event, our ‘Spotlight on Torbay’ is where we’ll be hearing about how the programme has impacted in a positive way on the lives of some of our people in later life, social entrepreneurs and community organisations.

We’ll be taking the opportunity to launch our Final Report Executive Summary outlining the key insights, learning and evaluation from the programme.

It’s going to be a busy afternoon, one which for me will be tinged with joy, at what we have all achieved together and with some sadness, that the three years is over and that some of the close connections and friendships made will inevitably move on.  But above all, I shall be hopeful that we have made a difference and through our learning, we have paved the way for others to transform ageing too.

To be a part of this event join our livestream on Thursday 27 February at 2pm. It will be hosted on

If you’d like to be part of a hopeful, inclusive dialogue about what comes next, please contact us at

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