UCLan joins forces with Age UK to tackle loneliness and isolation during Covid-19 pandemic
University to work with the charity to develop online initiatives to help the elderly
The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has teamed up with Age UK in Stockport to look at developing online digital programmes to help elderly and vulnerable residents in the region cope with loneliness and isolation during the Coronavirus crisis.
Both students and staff in the Creative Innovations Zone at the University are currently working with the charity to create online tools to help elderly residents keep in touch with both loved ones plus support and care staff while the pandemic continues.
The Government has urged all people over the age of 70 to remain at home for up to 12 weeks during the pandemic and to avoid physical contact with both relatives and friends during that period.
"We can learn a lot from the current situation. Helping those whose mental health may begin to decline through loneliness is vital, and this unique initiative will help us put in place new ways of engaging with services, as well as socially."
Emma Speed, UCLan’s Creative Innovation Zone Director, said: “In this current unprecedented time of quarantine, social distancing and remote working, all of us are going to feel the effects of isolation and loneliness but none more than elderly and vulnerable people living on their own.
“Loneliness can be a huge issue for older people during normal conditions, particularly if they live alone. With the present restrictions on movement the chances of loneliness, isolation and depression affecting them is that much greater.
“We are very pleased that we now have a chance to tackle the problem head on, just when help is most needed.”
Among the initiatives being looked at by the University’s Creative Innovation Zone team are developing new online tools which can enable older residents to communicate more easily with both family members and care and support staff while they are not with them.
The collaborative project will see students from Journalism and Sociology at UCLan working together with PhD students at the university to develop the new digital platforms.
Emma Speed added: "This partnership with Age UK is a fantastic example of how bringing together students from different courses and disciplines provides new ways of thinking about very real social problems like isolation and loneliness. These issues are a continuous challenge for an organisation like Age UK and the people who rely on their support, especially now.
“The Creative Innovation Zone team and iLab are delighted to be able to offer our students this unique opportunity to work with a high profile charity at the forefront of Coronavirus community support."
Lee Speed, Operations Manager at Age UK Stockport, has said: "Using this time to work remotely with the Creative Innovation Zone and i-Lab at UCLan to find new ways to help those who are isolated will help us forward plan and is very timely.
“We can learn a lot from the current situation. Helping those whose mental health may begin to decline through loneliness is vital, and this unique initiative will help us put in place new ways of engaging with services, as well as socially. "