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We are exploring online and off how to use a mix of media to Live Well in the Digital Age. David Wilcox and Drew Mackie

David Wilcox

Centre for @Ageing_Better starts digital technology initiative with job opportunity - if you are quick

4 min read

The Centre for Ageing Better - initially slow to recognise the importance of digital technology - has now caught up with the welcome announcement on Twitter of a Digital Initiative and recruitment of a digital manager. If you are interested, apply fast - closing date is in a week.

As part of our new Digital Initiative, @Ageing_Better are looking for expertise to manage the project

The Centre is part of the What Works Network, with a £50 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund, and a strong Board chaired by Lord Filkin. The Centre is currently recruiting senior staff to work with its new Chief Executive Anna Dixon, who joined at the start of the month.

The Centre's early consultation papers lacked any mention of digital - backstory here. I think that the new initiative opens the way for the Centre to take a lead in a field that lacks strategic thinking on Living Well in the Digital Age, if it follows through from initial scoping.

The ‘Digital Initiative’ will run over the next few months, with a possible extension, and aims to:

  • Research – what digital innovations are out there that are helping older people, or can help Ageing Better with delivering its mission
  • Connect – with other organisations that are working on the topic of Technology and Ageing, see how we can collaborate
  • Define – what Ageing Better’s role will be with regards to Technology and Ageing, and how Digital may impact our positioning and our candidate programmes
  • Specify – the role digital will play within our system blueprint, i.e. the IT systems we will need to support business processes and communicate & collaborate with the external world

The responsibilities of the manager are:

  • Help define the Centre’s position, role and remit in relation to “Technology & Ageing”
  • Network with other organisations within the sector to collaborate and represent Ageing Better on the topic of digital / technology in ageing.
  • Research existing and ‘horizon’ digital technologies in the Ageing sector – what really works for older people on this front.
  • Research what digital technologies will help Ageing Better support its working processes, and work closely with our external partners & stakeholders

It looks like a job for a consultant, on £300-£400 a day, closing date for applications October 1, starting asap. The emphasis in the job description is on technical and project management expertise, so I'm hoping there may be scope for other contributions on digital and ageing. There's a lot to mine from our exploration into Living Well in the Digital Age, and the work of others in the field.

OK, I'm self-interested, but this could a great opportunity to commission some supporting pieces of work from people like Shirley Ayres, John Popham and Paul Webster - to name just a few - who share their experience and insights generously. My suggestion, after reviewing existing work in the field, would be some mapping of who's who, and who may offer what, on the lines Drew Mackie and I have been developing.

The initiative is a chance for the Centre to demonstrate an open and cooperative approach, building on knowledge of "what really works" and developing a sharing network, rather than just starting another round of research leading to yet more reports. From helpful exchanges with Centre staff after earlier posts, I'm hopeful about the direction that's emerging.

David Wilcox

Why #AgeingBetter funders and policy makers should embrace digital technology - some resources

6 min read

Summary: digital technology is increasingly important for Living Well in the Digital Age. Here's suggestions on why funders and policy makers should review existing resources.

There was lively discussion on Twitter last week about why the Centre for Ageing Better's consultation strategy has no mention of technology and digital innovation.

I'm drafting a blog post on the topic, and asked the Centre, and Big Lottery Fund who are providing a £50 million endowment, for some comments. In doing that it seems only fair to offer some ideas on why technology may be important to funders and policy makers, so I've rapidly pulled together some resources from our exploration into Ageing Better and Living Well in the Digital Age. More suggestions welcome.

I suggest that researchers, funders and policy makers in the ageing field would benefit from reviewing these issues and resources:

  • To avoid re-inventing the wheel in commisioning research or funding activities
  • To identify opportunities for collaboration
  • To shape their policy recommendations

The internet and digital technology affects all or us - for good or ill - and it is important to understand why.

See Baroness Lane-Fox for a positive view of the Internet, Andrew Keen and other sceptics for the downsides. Review our exploration into Ageing Better Innovation, and the resources we have gathered. The SEEFA symposium shows how people in the ageing field view technology.

Government departments are embedding digital technology in service transformations that will affect older people

The Department for Communities and Local Government has used older people and ageing as the first area to explore in digital service transformation and engagement. Cabinet Office is promoting innovation. Local services will become digital.

Older people and those who provide support are adopting technology

Organisations providing direct services in the ageing field find technology a hot topic. Older people will expect those serving their needs to be engaged as well.

Digital technology will be increasingly important for health, wellbeing and social care

Service innovation, the drive for cost savings, and consumer interest will make digital innovation increasingly important.

Organisations in the ageing field need help

Discussion at the SEEFA symposium in January 2015 confirmed that many organisations in the ageing field are failing to engage with digital technology - partly through lack of skills, and partly because of cultural attitudes

Digital technology will be increasingly important in local initiatives

Local councils and partnerships will this year be faced with the growing challenge of deciding what technology solutions to develop and promote for care, health and wellbeing in their community.

Innovation funders provide resources that other funders could adopt

  • The UK innovation agency NESTA has developed a framework for supporting innovation in ageing, a living map of projects, and an ageing well challenge fund. Here’s the NESTA site and a blog post
  • The Nominet Trust has compiled the Social Tech Guide "to recognise the pioneers who are using digital technology to make a real difference to millions of lives", including a section on health.
  • The Trust’s Knowledge Centre details research and projects that the Trust has supported, including work on older people, well-being, and life transitions.

If you have further suggestions on why digital technology is important in this field, and/or resources, please send to David Wilcox, tweet @davidwilcox, or comment.

David Wilcox

The problem with digital inclusion is people promoting it don't use much digital says @johnpopham

1 min read

John confirms my view in this piece of audio