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Using technology to help manage loneliness resulting from COVID-19

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Researchers are developing new technologies which will seek to mitigate loneliness among older people who are socially distanced due to COVID-19.

The project, Social and Emotional Resilience for the Vulnerable Impacted by the COVID-19 Emergency (SERVICE), led by Blaine Price, Professor of Computing at the OU in collaboration with the psychology departments at University of Exeter and Nottingham Trent University (NTU), has just received £400,000 from the UK Research and Innovation Ideas to Address COVID-19 fund.

The project will work with communities in the over 50s age group, together with the carers and link workers who support them. The aim is to develop an app and platform that helps users to share their experiences with their supporters in a secure and private environment. These data will also be used to analyse the effect of the pandemic on these communities and to recommend personalised interventions to help manage their emotional wellbeing.

Professor Price said:

“This project seeks to contribute to understanding of and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts due to unprecedented social distancing, by digitally facilitating support/carer interactions and gathering data to assist personalized interventions and policy.” The aim is to analyse what we find so that we can design new platforms and tools to address any gaps.”

This 18-month project will collaborate with NTU’s Trent Ageing Panel and Age UK Exeter to produce a working prototype within six months, which will then be tested and rolled out.

If you or someone you care for is an older adult impacted emotionally by COVID-19 the researchers would greatly value your experiences.

Share your experiance

The project is an extension of a previous project led by the OU, also with Exeter University and Age UK Exeter and Milton Keynes: STRETCH (Socio-Technical Resilience for Enhancing Targeted Community Healthcare) which aims to coordinate circles of support for older adults .

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