Munster Technological University is designated an Age-Friendly University

| Posted on: 28 September, 2021
Jane O'Flynn, Programme Manager and Conor O'Mullane, Salaso Health Solutions

Photo: Jane O’Flynn, HIHI Programme Manager and Conor O’Mullane, Salaso Health Solutions

Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) is pleased to announce that its consortium member Munster Technological University (MTU) has been designated an Age-Friendly University (AFU). The AFU network consists of institutions of higher education around the globe who have endorsed the 10 AFU principles and committed themselves to becoming more age-friendly in their programs and policies. HIHI congratulates its programme manager Jane O’Flynn and the MTU AFU working group on this achievement.

Being age-friendly is now more important than ever as people are living longer. The number of people aged over 65 is ever increasing and it is expected that 1 in 5 people in Ireland will be in this age group by 2036. While increased life expectancy is a great achievement of public health, the challenge remains to ensure those extra years are as healthy and active for as long as possible. Fuelled by these statistics, there has been a surge in the number of companies developing connected  and  community based solutions to enable positive ageing. HIHI connects companies developing innovative solutions, with clinical teams and end-users to support the development of their products at idea stage, pre-commercial product stage and conducts clinical pilots of market ready solutions for these companies. Jane O’Flynn leads HIHI’s Engaging Positive Ageing projects and has significant expertise in technology, healthcare requirements and end user needs to support these activities

Technological solutions can help people to age at home. HIHI evaluated Isaac Care, a complete independent living solution that empowers older people to live safely and independently at home, while giving those providing care to them the peace of mind that they’re safe and well. HIHI also worked with Independent Living Ireland and older people in the community to co-design a solution to meet their needs. Practical help is also available from the Age Action Care + Repair initiative which does small DIY jobs and the local authority Age Friendly Healthy Homes programme that helps older people to upgrade their homes so that they can stay there longer.

Innovation in health and rehabilitation allows people to be and remain active while living at home. HIHI is working with Salaso Health Solutions to demonstrate the use of a personalised online exercise programme to support patients on waiting lists for consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon. HIHI is supporting a pilot of ARMED, a Sláintecare funded exercise and weight management programme that can be delivered online or in the community and is aimed at people with arthritis to help them stay active and reduce the need for surgery. Recovering at home following a serious health event can be both isolating and challenging. HIHI piloted Enable Us, a novel online support and wellness service that empowers stroke survivors to take control of life after stroke and brings rehab to the home.

Falling can have a major impact on the health of an older person and their ability to stay at home. As is often been said prevention is the better than cure. HIHI evaluated Balance, a free app developed by Kinesis Health Technologies, to allow an older adult to determine if they are at risk of falls and gives advice on how to improve balance. It is important that carers are aware someone might be at risk of falling. HIHI evaluated AutoBedAlert which notifies a carer when somebody leaves a bed or chair and so may be at risk of falling.

Other projects involved the assessment of the ResHub platform that enables families to stay connected to loved ones in residential care homes, Dental Tech has developed specific training and denture management programmes to ensure this aspect of ageing is well managed.