09 June 2023
A consortium including Age NI, the Public Health Agency (PHA), the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Ulster University, Technicare and Taking Care, part of AXA Health, has won a highly competitive UK innovation award worth around £1.3m.
The funded project, Move More Live More, is aimed at tackling one of the most significant issues affecting the health and wellbeing of the older population: falls.
The cost of falls among the over-65s to the health service in Northern Ireland is estimated to be around £375 million over two years, and the personal impact of a fall for an older person can be life-changing.
Sandra Aitcheson, Assistant Director of Nursing at the PHA, said, “Falls are a major cause of disability and they are the leading cause of death as the result of an injury in people over the age of 75*, particularly following a hip fracture. Annual figures show that one in three over-65 year olds, and around half of over 85s will fall at least once**. Pre-pandemic, more than 26,000*** older people a year attended emergency departments here after a fall.
“At a personal level, a fall can have dramatic effects on an older person’s life, at best knocking their confidence and reducing social activities; and at worst increasing isolation, limiting mobility, accelerating frailty and leading to a loss of independence.
“The key message of this programme is that falls are not always an inevitable part of growing older and there are actions and lifestyle changes which can help us all to stay stronger for longer.”
Move More Live More is aimed at health education, prevention and intervention to reduce falls in the over 65s.
The Northern Ireland consortium’s £1.28m funding award is one of only a handful of successful applicants across the UK, which together have been awarded £20m from the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) Healthy Ageing Challenge fund, managed through Innovate UK. The aim of the fund is to deliver “game-changing innovations” to help people as they age, allowing them to remain active, independent and socially connected for as long as possible.
The major innovation in Move More Live More is the use of wearable digital technology, combined with a unique data monitoring platform, which can predict an increased chance of a fall up to 32 days before a fall would occur. Through monitoring and early detection, the wearer can then be prompted with movement, actions and interventions aimed at preventing them from falling.
Who’s it for?
Move More Live More will deliver three tiers of support to people aged over 65 ranging from anyone interested in learning how to stay strong to prevent falls, to those who have experienced a fall and may be seeking health and wellbeing guidance to get more out of life, through to individuals experiencing slowing down and deemed as being at a higher risk of falling, who will trial innovative new remote monitoring technology.
Age NI will deliver a new tailor-made six week online course of expert sessions aimed at educating older people in health, wellbeing and movement to build all-important strength and balance to stay stronger for longer, all under the close guidance of physiotherapists.
The consortium’s lead partner, Taking Care, part of AXA Health, is one of the UK’s largest providers of personal alarms and monitoring services.
Working closely with the project’s technology partner, Technicare, Taking Care will provide support and information to those users designated at higher risk of a fall.
How the technology works:
Technicare’s ground-breaking remote monitoring platform captures data collected from wearable devices, including activity levels, sleep, heart rate and SpO2. The unique monitoring platform uses predictive analytics (computer learning) to detect changes which can indicate an increased risk of falling. Earlier research on the platform’s predictive analytics indicates it can detect an increased risk of a fall up to 32 days before a fall occurs.
If a risk is flagged on any wearer’s data, Taking Care’s highly trained Prevention Team assess the individual and provide health and lifestyle information or intervention measures to avoid a fall. This can include guidance on exercise and movement, or may include prompts to self-refer for healthcare support (eg GP, pharmacist, falls clinic). If risks are elevated and sustained, the wearer and their nominated advocate (family member or friend) will be alerted.
Age NI Chief Executive Linda Robinson said, “At Age NI all of our work involves supporting older people to live well for longer. We know just what a significant impact falls can have on older people and those around them. This programme is based on the fact that falls are not an inevitable part of growing older, and that it is possible, through some changes, to stay stronger for longer. It is brilliant to see an application of digital technology which is aimed specifically at supporting the older generation in such an impactful way. Move More Live More has the potential to alter the shape of later life for so many people, so it’s really interesting and exciting.”
Steve Gates, Managing Director of Taking Care, said, “Through this UKRI / Innovate UK funding, we are excited to be exploring new ways to address the enormous personal and societal impact of falls in over 65s. Our consortium team combines age experts, academic, scientific and health experts with hands-on knowledge of what works both for prevention and rehabilitation, plus cutting edge technology. This could herald a whole new way of supporting people to live independently as they age. The impact of this project is not just on an individual’s personal health, but could also bring radical benefits to the overall delivery of healthcare for older people.”
Move More Live More is now recruiting participants in Northern Ireland and places are strictly limited. For information and to apply (aged 65+) visit: www.ageni.org/movemorelivemore
About the consortium:
Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. It drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. They connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth. They fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Their support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions. Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). For more information visit www.innovateuk.ukri.org
Healthy Ageing Challenge Fund - The Healthy Ageing Challenge is supported by the Centre for Ageing Better’s Community of Practice. This is a learning community that brings together organisations with an interest in developing solutions that support people to age well. The Community is run by the Centre for Ageing Better on behalf of UKRI.
The total Move More Live More project is valued at £1.6m, with investment from private sector partners.
The Move More Live More project consortium partners are:
** Information from NICE, 2013
*** The number of new ED attendances for patients aged 65 or over with a Fall in the triage text for FY2017/18 regionally is 26,528 (Health and Social Care Board: https://hscboard.hscni.net/helping-older-people-stay-independent-winter-preventing-falls/)
For more information about Technicare and our remote monitoring technology, please email: email@example.com