UKRI’s Healthy Ageing Challenge 'Adding Life to Years'

Healthy Ageing 2023 was the annual conference led by UKRI’s Healthy Ageing Challenge, led by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which over the past 5 years invested £98 million in research and innovation across the UK to ensure that people, as they age, can remain active, productive, independent, and socially connected across generations for as long as possible.

Posted on: 15/11/2023
Delegates at the Healthy Ageing 2023 conference.

The conference, held at the Kia Oval in London over two days on 13 and 14 November, had a headline theme of ‘Adding Life to Years’ and focused on four areas where innovation is achieving great impact; Care, Work, Staying Active and Housing.

The event brought together hundreds of innovators and researchers, along with investors, commissioners and policy makers working across sectors and disciplines, to share the impact innovation and research is having around the UK and internationally.

Some of the big questions explored were, how will we leverage technology and innovation to keep people active as they age and enhance quality of life? how we can design and modify homes and support the health and social care system to help people live independently for longer? and how can we promote lifelong learning and skills development to empower older people to stay productive and tackle ageism in the workplace?

Dr Patricia Moore, President, Moore Design Associates

Towards a healthier future

Dr Patricia Moore, President, Moore Design Associates offered a very poignant and personal keynote, reflecting on both the stark reality of modern challenges together with tales of inspiration and progress towards a healthier future for humanity, which has empathy at the core. The theme of her talk was design – from designing our homes to accommodate individual needs, to designing built environments for all which promote health and wellbeing. She said that technology was “a big piece of the puzzle” moving forward but it is not a standalone response.

It is a co-existence opportunity. Let’s not be frightening by AI. Let’s use it as the tool it’s meant to be, but watch it carefully.”

“We have to work as a team and we have to appreciate each other. We have focus on wellness, not illness. We have to hold hands and stick together because if we have a good life, a high quality of life, it will be because we worked as a team.

– Dr Patricia Moore, President, Moore Design Associates

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England

Health in an ageing society

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, was the afternoon’s keynote speaker, and presented his CMO annual report, which this year is focused on health in an ageing society. It was his first speaking engagement since the publication of the report last Friday (10 November). The report looks at how to maximise the independence, and minimise the time in ill-health, between people reaching older age and the end of their life, benefitting both society and the economy. The report also recognises the work of the Healthy Ageing Challenge and many of its funded projects.

I think we need to go back to a fairly old-fashioned approach to thinking about public health – primary prevention, secondary prevention and treatment. We can do two things to significantly improve the lives of ourselves when we grow older, of current older adults and older adults of the future.”

“The first is to shift disease off to the right so people have a much shorter period of ill-health and less multimorbidity and have better quality of life. The second is to change the environment so that someone with the same level of disability can have a much more dignified, independent and enjoyable life.

– Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England

Exploring housing

One of the most popular sessions on the agenda was on housing – exploring ideas and solutions to keep people active and independent in their homes for longer. Laura Wood, Founder and Director of Invisible Creations spoke about their company’s mission to create accessible products which are “beautifully designed”. She described hospital-style grab rails as ugly, clinical and, if positioned outside a person’s home, can advertise the occupier’s vulnerability, potentially increasing the risk of being a victim of doorstep crime. Invisible Creations have developed a suite of products which combine functionality with aesthetic design, such as grab rails disguised as plant pot holders or shower shelves, ultimately giving users more dignity and preventing falls.

Feedback from attendees

The feedback from delegates and exhibitors alike has been overwhelmingly positive. Sean Carroll, Business Development Manager at Anagram – an immersive experience company, said:

This is my first Healthy Ageing conference. Wandering around and chatting there’s so many people here doing absolutely incredible things and it’s quite easy to be developing away in your own little bubble, and then you come out and you meet the wider community doing this inspiring work. It’s great to be part of it.

David Nugent is Founder of Elucidare Ltd – a consultancy developing novel spatial acoustic technology to make noisy sound environments more pleasant and enjoyable for older people. He said:

Innovate UK has assembled a great collection of innovators. I’ve had some great conversations with fellow engineers and researchers in this space, sharing ideas. Events like this are really important, where we get to engage with people that are working in the healthcare community, and immeasurably valuable for me.

Connect with us

Want to connect, share knowledge and gain more insights ? Join the Healthy Ageing Community of Practice run by the Innovate UK KTN.

The Healthy Ageing Challenge Community of Practice is a collaborative learning community with over 1,000 members, open to all those working or interested in healthy ageing.

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Healthy Ageing Community of Practice

Healthy Ageing Community of Practice

The Healthy Ageing Community of Practice is a collaborative learning community for businesses, social ventures, researchers, investors and policymakers to connect and share knowledge and insights in relation to healthy ageing.


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