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The Social Network: a concept to improve the quality of life for an ageing population while reducing loading on the NHS
  1. Efioanwan Andah1,
  2. Maheen Ahsan1,
  3. Roy Lee2,
  4. Edward Brewin2,
  5. Kasim Ahmed1
  1. 1 Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Efioanwan Andah, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK; efioanwan.andah13{at}imperial.ac.uk

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The current tumultuous financial climate leaves the National Health Service (NHS) facing budget cuts and needing to reallocate resources in order to provide a cost-effective yet high-quality service when caring for patients.1 More economically developed countries such as the UK have an ever increasing life expectancy and therefore a growing elderly population. In the last 40 years, the number of individuals aged 65 years and older has increased by 47%, and those aged 75 years and older has increased by 89%, with this trend set to continue.2 This has resulted in an increasing incidence of age-related diseases and a greater demand on social care and mental health services, with predictions that spending on older adult care will double in the next 15 years.3 It is clear that the two contradictory situations cannot continue together, and this was the basis of our task.

During an Innovation Conference held at Imperial College London, a Design Workshop was held, focused on finding ways to reduce the current strain on the NHS while improving the quality of healthcare for individuals. A team of three medical and two mechanical engineering undergraduate students, chosen at random and supervised by a member of staff from the Department of Bioengineering, created a plan to improve the quality of life of older adults. Our aim was to create a sustainable and innovative method, which would meet the needs of the older adult population, help improve their lifestyle and health, and hence reduce some of the burden on healthcare services.

The team began by identifying key issues related to ageing, to focus our approach to the brief. Through brainstorming, the team determined seven different problems to be some of the most common issues that older adults face. These were falls, depression, memory loss, reduced fitness, impaired mobility, poor nutrition and cold weather. …

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