Date Published: 12 April 2007

Sheffield University in new partnership to help older people (UK)

The University of Sheffield and Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust are launching a unique research initiative next week, which aims to improve the quality of life for elderly and disabled people in South Yorkshire and help the region´s economic regeneration.

The Advanced Care Technologies Programme (ACT) will be officially launched at the University on Tuesday 17 April 2007. The programme aims to promote interaction and partnerships between organisations in the region that develop, manufacture, provide and use assistive and telecare technologies, to support people with mobility or activity limitations and those with long-term disabling conditions.

The programme is funded by the University, the Trust and the European Union´s European Regional Development Fund, as part of the Objective 1 Programme in South Yorkshire. It will bring together ten collaborative partner organisations, from manufacturers and suppliers of assistive technology and telecare systems and response services, to care-home providers and older people´s advocacy organisations.

In 1901, average life expectancy was 45 years and it is forecast that by 2025 it will be over 80 years, and more than a third of the UK´s population will be over 55 years of age. The growing number of older people lies behind the rapid increase in the demand for assistive technology, rehabilitation products and supportive services.

Together with its partners, the ACT team will investigate the most effective applications of assistive technology and telecare and contribute to the development of improved products and systems. The team will work hard to transfer knowledge between researchers, industry, the NHS, care providers and the public. A key element of the knowledge-transfer activity will be a website that will go live on the launch day.

Professor Tony Warnes, Co-Director of the programme from the Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing at the University, said:

" The potential of assistive technologies for improving the lives of older people is immense, but there are a bewildering number of products and not all are good value. The ACT programme will do all it can to raise the quality and flow of information about what works."

Professor Mark Hawley, Director of R&D at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Co- Director of the programme commented:

" This programme gives clinicians and academics the opportunity to work with industry to develop better technology and technology-supported services for the benefit of older and disabled people. It also gives an important boost to businesses in South Yorkshire, helping them stay ahead in this fast-growing market, by producing innovative globally-competitive products and services."

Suzanne Westran, Commercial Manager of the programme and who is based at the Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing at the University, added:

" South Yorkshire has one of the largest clusters of medical device manufacturers in the UK, with 8% of all UK companies. However, the region´s businesses lag behind the rest of Europe in terms of research and development investment, which holds back the region´s economic renewal. The new programme will stimulate the assistive technology and telecare industry in South Yorkshire and help to establish it as a lead region in products and expertise."


Source: Sheffield University (UK).

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