SMART IDEA: Matiu Bush devised the social networking website One Good Street.
SMART IDEA: Matiu Bush devised the social networking website One Good Street.

Students show the way to better living for seniors

QUT'S Senior Living Innovation Challenge brings together some of the most creative minds to unearth innovative products and services that can empower older Australians to live engaging and fulfilling lives.

Six submissions have been shortlisted for the annual award which will be decided tomorrow night.

Across the research fields of housing, digital, technology, services and other innovative concepts, QUT was looking for submissions that showed a new way of thinking in approaching the challenges of gaining and maintaining a quality of life for people aged 65 and over.

The six finalists are -

Matiu Bush: One Good Street

One Good Street is an online social networking site for your street. It aims to provide the opportunity for neighbours to offer their assistance, knowledge and skills to older citizens and their carers through a supported platform which includes positive ageing activities and education.

"We have designed a feature in One Good Street that matches isolated older residents with each other in their local area," Matiu said. "They are encouraged to spend one day or more in each other's company, reducing the amount of services they require as care workers or nurses only need to visit one house instead of two and the matching of two residents also gives family carers a break as they may choose to alternate care duties. Looking after the adult children of older people as they strive to keep their parents at home for as long as possible is how we make a difference. Together we can reduce social isolation and loneliness for older citizens one good street at a time."

Meg Lowry: The Balance Yourself book and Clock Yourself app

Physiotherapist Meg Lowry has developed fun and convenient PREhabilitation tools to appeal to adults who are keen to proactively shape their course of ageing.

Balance Yourself is a step-by-step guidebook to better balance which will be sold in pharmacies, post offices, GP clinics and retirement villages. With large text, non-ageist language and clear illustrations, the book presents a full sequence of evidence-based balance exercises.

Clock Yourself is a series of brain games that are performed with the body. The app leverages the familiarity of a clock face visualised on the floor, and introduces a series of memory and reaction time challenges that involve stepping to the numbers on the imaginary clock.

The app is low-tech and older adults were involved in every step of the development and beta testing. The $3 app has been downloaded over 1700 times. It is the subject of multiple research projects worldwide, including two mega clinical trials lead by world class researchers to quantify its potential to prevent falls and perhaps even slow cognitive decline in older adults.

Christoph Niesel: The Next Stage: Rethinking entrepreneurial spaces for older adults

"This proposal seeks to reinvent and re-imagine co-working spaces for entrepreneur-minded older adults," Christopher said. "This idea seeks to go beyond traditional co-working spaces and create a starting spot for like-minded persons to come together, seek tutelage, create business opportunities and remain current with the changing, often digital dynamic of modern employment."

This is a key step in the next stage of employment for older adults, a chance to remain included, empowered and most of all in control of the next stage of employment in their lives.

SMART IDEA: Marita Cheng with her invention, Jevaroo.
SMART IDEA: Marita Cheng with her invention, Jevaroo.

Marita Cheng: Jevaroo

"I was inspired by this idea through working with people with limited upper limb mobility," Maria said. "I realised an arm like this could make a really big difference to them. So, I shared the idea with my mentor, 83-year-old Dianne Boddy, who has been recognised as one of Australia's best mechanical engineers, and she immediately began working on the calculations."

Jevaroo is a telepresence robotic arm on a movable platform. The arm can be controlled by a user located in the same room by Bluetooth or by a carer in another location via Wifi in order to do chores around the home such as getting drinks, opening doors, and bringing food. Jevaroo's arm can approach door handles or cups from even more angles than a human arm.  It can lift 1kg at full extension, and pick objects off the ground or from as high as 1.8m.

Pearl James: An Inclusive Community

This is a reinvention of the community centre and aims to redefine what it means to be a part of a community. It also focuses on creating shared community spaces to foster inter-generational interaction and to counter the negative effects of elderly age-segregation.

"This new community centre typology is a model that ageing communities could incorporate into their built environments, towards a more socially inclusive and age-friendly future," Pearl said.

Robin Drogemuller: Disaggreating senior care provision through community integration

"We asked ourselves whether there is a way to provide improved physical facilities, embedded in the community, to which current aged care services could be provided economically," Robin said. "If we provide an incremental way to build new or modify existing dwellings this could reduce financial risk in the investment in physical facilities"

The result is a concept that can be used to gradually adapt a suburb to use slightly increased densities to improve the stock of whole of life dwellings with an adaptable service model.

Visit Senior Living Innovation Challenge for more information on each of these submissions.  

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