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Products prepare elderly for independent living

Brunel has helped tackle the unprecedented challenges of an ageing population by developing products and services to help older people live independently.

The lead academic on the research team, Dr Gabriella Spinelli, has worked with Age UK since 2007, applying her research to issues of ageing and social inclusion.

She was awarded a £520,000 grant from the Technology Strategy Board and the Economic and Social Research Council in 2010 to establish a research agenda taking into account design, marketing and gerontology and focusing on a better understanding of the ageing market and its consumers.

The study used quantitative and qualitative data to better define consumer profiles of an ageing population, recognising decision-making factors and barriers when using products and services.

It has been used to develop assistive living products by the likes of Handicare, the largest provider of stairlifts in the UK, and British Telecom. Utilising understanding of older people’s self-perception, the products have helped provide greater mobility, assisted communication and led to independent living.

The research has also helped create a knowledge base that Age UK used to inform its products and service accreditation schemes launched in March 2012.