Why are we doing this?
Life expectancies are increasing by five hours a day. This is a startling achievement and one that is set to transform everything from employment to the norms of family life. Our assumptions about what it means to be 70 or 80 are being challenged and we need to create ways of living that enable us to live well for longer.
The ageing population is a major driver of change in the health and care system. With more of us living longer and with multiple conditions, our approach to health needs to change. Nesta is developing, supporting and scaling innovations to improve health through Health Lab - a new initiative from that brings together our practical work on health and ageing to achieve more impact.
What are we doing?
In 2013, Nesta published Five Hours A Day: Systemic Innovation for an Ageing Population. The report argued that we need to innovate to enable us to adapt to an ageing population, including renewing our social institutions, such as the labour market, and creating ways for people to help one another.
Since then Nesta, with partners, has supported ageing innovations to be tested and scaled in practice. Our work has focused predominantly on building social connections to enable people to age well and on creating solutions to enable people to live well with long-term conditions.
We are currently supporting the following organisations to scale and increase their impact through the Centre for Social Action's Innovation Fund with the Cabinet Office:
- Shared Lives Plus - Shared Lives carers share their own home and family life with a person with additional needs, such as dementia, as an alternative to traditional care services.
- Rebuilding Connections by Social Finance - Social Finance is working with Age UK and communities in Worcestershire to deliver a social impact bond programme that reduces loneliness and improves well-being in older age.
- The Green Gym -The Green Gym combines keeping fit with improving the environment, transforming volunteers' health and wellbeing while improving local areas.
- North London Cares - North London Cares and South London Cares are community networks mobilising young professionals to support their older neighbours.
- Integrated Care Pathway, by Age UK - The ‘integrated care pathway’ is a pioneering new way of delivering support for older people with long term conditions embedding voluntary sector professionals alongside older people and clinicians, led by Age UK.
- Good Neighbours Scheme by Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity - Good Neighbour schemes are very localised support networks, harnessing and facilitating street-based, grassroots social action and building social capital within communities.
- British Lung Foundation - The British Lung Foundation is transforming its peer support network of Breathe Easy Groups, integrating these groups into local health services to support people to self-manage their care.
- British Red Cross - The British Red Cross’s First Call programme is a high-quality, volunteer-led solution that addresses the health needs of people who are living longer with multiple health problems, high levels of frailty and with insufficient family or community support. It offers a 12 week course of support for those recovering from a crisis and provides them with the help they need to regain their independence.
- Carers UK - Carers UK is being supported to establish a national social action programme to enable carers to support carers. The programme enables those with experience of caring to connect to others, and provide valued practical and emotional support to each other to help carers better manage their caring role and avoid breakdown.
- Diabetes UK - Diabetes UK is rolling out a new model of support for people with diabetes. This builds on a successful Randomised Control Trial carried out by Addenbrookes Hospital of a peer support model for diabetes, which combined peer group sessions with input from specialist nurses and trained volunteers to enable diabetes patients to manage their condition more effectively.
- RNIB - The RNIB is developing a new volunteer led, telephone based course for the newly diagnosed, with embedded peer support. Courses will run for 4 sessions, and cover practical issues such as transport, safety, benefits, etc. as well as giving space for participants to come to terms with their sight loss by supporting one another.
- Stroke Association - The Stroke Association is providing practical support for stroke patients through peers who know what it’s like to recover from a stroke.
Previously Nesta ran the Ageing Well Challenge Prize, and backed over 50 innovations to encourage people to give more of their time, resources and money for social good through the Innovation in Giving Fund. Nesta also ran the Age Unlimited programme in England and Scotland. We continue to invest in innovations which improve outcomes for older people through the pioneering £17m Nesta Impact Investment Fund.
You can find out more about our work on ageing via the links below:
- Five Hours a Day
- Systems Innovation
- Rooted: Growing Your Own Social Venture
- Preparing for Ageing
- People Powered Health: Health for people, by people and with people
- People Helping People
Our Five Hours a Day report looks at why – and how – we must innovate to support our ageing population.
Meet the innovators
Check out our living map of ageing innovations – or submit your own!
Our Ageing Well Challenge sought ideas to improve older people's lives.