The University of Exeter is hosting a conference on the future of healthy ageing to celebrate the end of a successful pilot project and to launch a toolkit that will enable more communities in the UK and beyond to improve the quality of life of their citizens.
The hybrid launch event on 1 Marchin Gent, Belgium, will review the highlights of the HAIRE project and its social innovations as well as looking ahead to promoting healthy ageing in rural communities in the future.
HAIRE (Healthy Ageing through Innovation in Rural Europe), funded by the EU Interreg2Seas programme, has spent the last three years working across eight pilot sites in the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The partners co-designed a toolkit which takes a place-based, person-centred approach to understanding the needs, aspirations and passions of older people.
The HAIRE toolkit seeks to understand the needs of older people in their words – from their perspectives – and empower them to participate in their communities and create social innovations from the ground up.
It consists of a Guided Conversation, a social network analysis and a neighbourhood analysis, though users can hand-pick and adapt the tools that are most useful for their needs.
To ensure healthy ageing is embedded at the systemic level, the HAIRE approach advocates bringing together older people, community leaders, local government and welfare organisations to reflect on how service design and delivery can be adapted to the needs and input of older people on an iterative basis.
The promotion of care at a community level acts as a core principle to ensure inclusive participation in identifying and responding to needs.
Some of the social innovations launched in the pilot sites in Europe and the UK as a result of using the HAIRE toolkit include community transport, intergenerational activities, welfare checks and befriending, digital support, local participation working groups and creative activities that align with local interests.
The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in the UK launched a competition with HAIRE for design students to combine planetary health and ways to work intergenerationally to inspire healthier communities in the future.
The HAIRE toolkit and findings are now being piloted for use in the UK by the health service as part of anticipatory care planning.
Project lead Professor Catherine Leyshon, who has been working on healthy ageing for over 10 years, said: “It’s the most pressing social issue facing western economies.
“In HAIRE we have used place-based, person-centred approaches to create social innovation from the ground up to address the needs of older people in rural areas.”
The conference will provide an opportunity for attendees not only to learn about HAIRE and the toolkit, but to problem solve and consider the future of ageing in their communities.
If you are interested in attending, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can attend virtually or in person.