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Above all, this programme has the potential to deliver new, scalable and sustainable solutions that meet the needs and aspirations of our ageing communities across the UK.Rt Hon Prof. Paul Burstow, former Minister of State for Care
Background: An ageing population
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.
The UK is undergoing a demographic shift that will have far-reaching consequences for society, the economy and public service provision.
For the first time Britain’s over 65s outnumber people under the age of 16. By 2020, the Office for National Statistics predicts that people aged over 50 will make up almost one third (32%) of the workforce and nearly half (47%) the adult population.
The implications for an ageing society affect all of us, across generations and will touch every part of our lives, presenting challenges for individuals, families, communities, employers, service providers and government. Responding to the needs of people in later life is one of society’s most crucial and growing issues.
How do we ‘Transform Ageing’?
We need to think in a radically different way, using the lived experience of people in later life, collaboration and community engagement to better understand their needs and expectations.
Transform Ageing has been a three-year learning programme, aiming to demonstrate that combining social entrepreneurship and community action with world-class design practice can drive positive change, responding to the challenge of our ageing society.
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. To do this, we worked with people in later life and other stakeholders to create six innovation briefs – challenges that social entrepreneurs were asked to respond to with their ideas for innovations that help us, as we age, to stay active, happy, healthy and connected.
Exploring the Challenge
In the summer of 2017, we held a series of ‘Exploring the Challenge’ workshops with communities in Cornwall, North Devon, Somerset and Torbay to understand what would improve their experience of ageing and what would make a difference to their day-to-day lives.
With the help of a delivery organisation in each area – Volunteer Cornwall, Devon Communities Together, Torbay Community Development Trust and The Community Council for Somerset – this in-depth, design-led process resulted in the creation of six innovation briefs:
- Steps to a positive future: People in later life have positive experiences of ageing
- Mobility and transport: Enhancing independence and wellbeing through improved mobility
- Life Transitions: Supporting people to prepare for life changes
- Caring about carers: Supporting, valuing and celebrating carers
- Right information, right time: Making information accessible, relevant and meaningful
- Making connections: Creating opportunities for people in later life to connect with other people, communities and activities
You can read more about the process in the Transform Ageing innovation briefs document.
Innovative solutions to shared problems
Entrepreneurs could apply for three levels of award – Do It, Grow It and Scale It – offering up to a maximum of £50,000 funding. Inspire awards were aimed at new ideas, rooted in the community, to begin to grow and develop.
Over the life of the programme, 62 social enterprises answered our challenge with ideas as diverse as car restoration projects, forest bathing, sewing rooms, sea exercising and Indian dancing. People in later life came up with their own ideas too and collectively enterprises are being run by them, involving or employing them, as well as benefitting people in later life. It has created a micro-economy in each of the Transform Ageing areas that didn’t exist previously.
Sustainability and Legacy
The delivery phase of Transform Ageing ended in June 2019. However, this was always designed to be a learning programme and we are now evaluating the impact of what we have achieved and reflecting on the highs and lows, so we can share them with other areas of the country who want to try a different approach.
You can read more about the programme and the social entrepreneurs in our programme pack.
We will be publishing more information and documentation about the programme during 2019. If you would like to discuss Transform Ageing and our learning, please contact Jo Gajtkowska, Head of Social Innovation.