I had the pleasure of being the Conference Manager of the AKTIVE 2014 (Advancing Knowledge of Telecare for Independence and Vitality in later lifE) conference at the University of Leeds on 8th and 9th April 2014. Financed by the Technology Strategy Board, the project is led by CIRCLE (Centre for Care, Labour and Equalities) at the University of Leeds, with partners Oxford Institute of Population Ageing at the University of Oxford, Tunstall Healthcare (UK) Ltd and Inventya Ltd.
Plenary sessions at the event included a spot on the place of technology within an assisted lifestyle by Professor Heinz Wolff (Emeritus Professor of Bioengineering and Doctor of Science, Brunel University) and Esther Rantzen CBE, who, as founder of The Silver Line, addressed delegates under the title “Old Age is not for Cissies”.
Tasha and Alan- The Dream Team!
The conference was Event Managed by me and Alan Gallacher, and with the focus on a demographic that is not traditionally catered for in either conferencing or mainstream technology, the planning and execution of the event was very rewarding. As the project is a charity we did encounter budgetary challenges, which we overcame through careful planning and a constant dialogue with the client. However, this did not compromise the quality of the event; a delicious lunch from the new Deli(very) Summer Specials menu (Summer Picnic on day 1, A Taste of Summer on day 2), a Gala Dinner with wine reception, poster sessions, orchestras, famous speakers, exhibitions, and much more. With MEETinLEEDS you really do get bang for your buck!
The use of new technology, such as using Google+ “Hangouts” to broadcast plenary sessions and hosting the Leeds Citizens Orchestra during the conference dinner are new and exciting challenges for us. The excitement was reciprocated by the Citizens Orchestra, as they had the opportunity to grace the same stage as The Who did for “Live at Leeds”.
At its heart, the Aktive project focused upon better knowledge and understanding of individual needs, and how telecare products & services can be designed and installed to optimise those needs. Elderly participants recognised that telecare helped them to hold onto highly valued aspects of their lives, and to preserve their character as an active, independent or capable person by retaining a sense of self and confidence. As part of a wider support network, telecare gave users the confidence to try new activities that they previously found difficult. As people nowadays generally live longer, how society reacts to the needs of its senior members is an issue that is in the media zeitgeist, such as The Silver Line, Age UK and Sport Relief. The positive impacts of telecare, such as feeling safer and more connected to others, a greater sense of confidence to self-manage many aspects of their own care, and strengthening their ties with friends and neighbours are aspects of getting older that I rarely (if ever) thought about. This made me consider about the challenges which my older relatives face on a daily basis and the technological advances that are now available to assist them, which I have been sharing with my family at every gathering!
Sue Yeandle, project Director and Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds summed up my thoughts succinctly: “Aktive’s research clearly demonstrates that more needs to be done by health and wellbeing boards to make full use of telecare which can have a positive effect on the lives of older people. But so much more could be achieved if telecare was integrated into campaigns around health and social care.”
The MEETinLEEDS team managed a number of events over our busy Easter season, so click to find out what we have been up to!
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