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Innovation Summit: A Focus on Healthy Ageing

This past Thursday, June 20th, I ventured out to Discovery Park in Sandwich for the second annual Innovation Summit. As a lifelong resident of Kent, I was eager to learn about the exciting advancements in technology happening right here in our county and beyond.

The focus of the day was Healthy Ageing, and the speaker list was impressive, including representatives from Innovate UK, Age Care Technologies (ACT), The Joy Club, and NHS Kent and Medway.

Building a Framework for Healthy Ageing

Sarah Bradnum from The Joy Club, a vibrant online community for retirees, emphasized that ageism, the last socially acceptable ‘ism’ is a significant barrier to healthy aging. The Joy Club offer online classes, talks, and workshops to inspire a joyful retirement.

A panel discussion featuring experts from ACT, the University of Kent, NHS SE, and The Joy Club delved into the Framework for Healthy Ageing. Here I learnt the eight key factors for a long and healthy life:

  1. Social Connection

  2. Diet

  3. Sleep

  4. Exercise

  5. Clean Air

  6. Self-Esteem

  7. Sense of Purpose

  8. Stress Management

The importance of social connection as the number one factor resonated deeply. While working from home has its advantages, being at the summit and connecting with others was energising for me personally.

Engaging an Ageing Population

The afternoon workshops focused on innovation and engagement with an aging population. I participated in a session where we discussed how businesses and society can better engage older adults.

My experience working in community engagement and lived experience analysis highlighted the importance of offering multiple ways for people to participate, including options for those less comfortable with technology. Meeting people where they are at, even if it requires extra effort, can yield invaluable insights. My thoughts on the topic being that technology should complement human interaction, not replace it entirely.

Akumen's Role: Ethical AI for a Balanced Future

Two statistics resonated with me: one, Kent has the equivalent of one entire hospital occupied by patients who are medically well enough to leave but lack a social care plan, and two, life expectancy varies by twelve years between Tonbridge Wells and the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, just an hour apart. These disparities highlight the need for further progress.

At Akumen, we focus on developing ethical AI that works alongside human expertise. This ensures that technology supports the growing collaboration between humans and machines.

The Innovation Summit was a valuable experience, offering insights into the challenges and opportunities surrounding healthy aging. It is clear there is much to be done, but with innovation and collaboration, we can create a better future for all.

Elouise Ross - Head of Collaboration @ Akumen


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