A social networking tool to break social isolation has won the inaugural $20,000 Senior Living Innovation Challenge, an initiative led by Australia’s Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
The One Good Street initiative, created by Bolton Clarke design integration lead Matiu Bush (pictured), uses social networking to give neighbours the opportunity to offer knowledge, assistance and skills for older people and their carers through a supported platform that includes positive ageing activities and education. A street accreditation process provides a way of rewarding neighbours for their participation.
Bush’s initiative had some tough competition; a telescopic robotic arm, an app promoting better balance, reinvention of the community centre, and co-working spaces for entrepreneurial older people were among the solutions presented at the Senior Living Innovation Challenge finals.
The aim of the challenge was to uncover innovative products and services to help seniors live fulfilling, vibrant lives.
“Since the challenge was launched last year we have been extremely impressed with the entries that have flooded in, most of which have demonstrated critical new thinking in housing, digital and social media, robotics and support services,” said Professor Laurie Buys, a QUT researcher from the Institute for Future Environments.
Buys says the future of senior living is already here.
“It includes virtual reality, a new approach to in-home services, multi-generational communal living and other innovative accommodation models.”
Buys says baby boomers are driving a radical re-think of our attitudes towards ageing.
“While society and governments have often viewed it as a problem to manage, baby boomers expect to remain active and to play a valuable part within their community.”
The winning concept by Bolton Clarke was developed in response to research and feedback from frontline At Home Support teams who identified the issue of social isolation as a significant factor affecting the wellbeing of clients.
Bush said One Good Street, based on the successful neighbourhood Good Karma Networks, was part of an urban renewal movement championing neighbour-initiated care.
“From starting an Air Con Club to help older residents during the heat, to sharing aged care equipment through tool libraries, to casserole clubs that provide nutrition and connection, One Good Street inspires and empowers neighbours to make a real difference in the lives of older people,” he said.
“It includes a feature that allows older people with similar interests who are feeling isolated to connect with each other within their local area. They are encouraged to spend one day or more in each other’s company, reducing the amount of services they require and giving family carers a break.
“Looking after the adult children of older people as they strive to keep their parents at home for as long as possible is one way we can make a difference.
“The project also drives accreditation and referral pathways for local business as well, so if 10-15 per cent of a street signs up it could receive One Good Street accreditation.”