Funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Transform Ageing takes a community and design-led approach to improve people’s experience of ageing.
The programme brings together people in later life, social entrepreneurs, health and social care leaders to define ageing-related challenges and to support the development and delivery of new approaches to ageing.
Transform Ageing is focused on the south-west of England. It is being delivered by UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, The Design Council, Centre for Ageing Better and the South West Academic Health Science Network. Delivery of the programme is supported locally by four organisations: Community Council for Somerset, Devon Communities Together, Torbay Community Development Trust, and Volunteer Cornwall to ensure the challenges meet specific local needs.
All ventures responded to innovation briefs set by local people in Somerset, Devon, Torbay and Cornwall. Our pitch for funding was to help people in later life find the right information at the right time and help them to make connections.
What problem are we trying to solve?
"40% of GPs would refer patients to social prescribing (non-medical services in the community) if they had more information about available services." Source: GP Online Survey, July 2017
Despite this much-mentioned statistic, we feel at Made Open that this isn't necessarily the problem we are trying to solve via our community platform. What we know about the need for social prescribing is that:
- Too many people are accessing medical help when they don't need it.
- GP's could be inadvertently harming their patients in the long-term if prescribing too much medication that they become addicted to.
- Social issues such as loneliness increase health and social care usage elsewhere, especially amongst people in later life.
So the problem we are trying to solve isn't so much around helping GP's to access information, although our platform significantly improves how that is done, it's about changing everyone's behaviour.
Our pitch to the Transform Ageing programme was to build on the work we are already doing in the South West where community members can exchange information, services and resources with each other; offer to help their neighbours and request help when they are ready - ensuring the safe and secure flow of information between GP's and Link Workers in the process.
This approach differentiates us from most if not all other social prescribing solutions which are still largely clinically or commissioner-led. Most other software solutions predominantly support a system where healthcare professionals provide a well-being service to their patient. Our solution is community-led.
Links for further information:
From UnLtd: https://unltd.org.uk/transform-ageing/
From Design Council: https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/what-we-do/social-innovation/transform-ageing