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Transforming care and health at home

Published: 12 April 2022

NIHR has co-funded 14 new research projects to develop technologies such as self-care apps, smart devices and wearables to help people transform their care and health at home.

The projects, which total £10m in funding, span a wide range of innovative devices and initiatives aiming to improve both housing and care, to support healthier living and greater independence for people in their homes.

The studies were funded for a joint research call in partnership with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The announcement comes just days after NIHR emphasised its enduring commitment to social care research by officially becoming the National Institute for Health and Care Research. The acronym NIHR will remain unchanged.

The studies include a project led by King’s College London and the University of Chester aiming to develop a monitoring and communication system with electronics built into clothing and home furniture to measure loneliness levels in older people.

A team led by Loughborough University will work with housing providers and developers, local authorities and government departments to determine

  • the key environmental factors in sleep degradation
  • how people can achieve better quality sleep
  • how existing homes can be refurbished to both reduce energy demand and improve comfort in summer

Professor Martin Knapp, NIHR’s social care spokesperson and director of the NIHR School for Social Care Research, said: “We are committed to funding and supporting research that expands and strengthens the way that social care is provided.

“We hope these studies will provide high quality evidence that will empower people to stay independent and well at home with their families and in their communities.

“This new investment builds on NIHR’s already rapidly growing high quality research portfolio in this vital part of the health and care sector and demonstrates our commitment to research through collaborating with other public funders.”

EPSRC Director for Cross-Council Programmes, Dr Kedar Pandya, said: Peoples’ needs and preferences, and those of their families and communities, must be at the heart of research to create good housing that maximises independence and prevents ill health.

“The projects announced today bring together a wide range of partners, crucially including those with lived experience, to deliver on EPSRC and NIHR’s shared ambition to invest in research that is transforming health and healthcare – supporting healthier living in the UK.”

The projects - more details of which are also listed on the EPSRC website - are the following:

  • Intelligent Sensing to Promote Self-management of Posture and Mobility in Community Dwelling Individuals – led by Professor Peter Worsley, University of Southampton
  • Healthcare Wearables for Independent Living – led by Professor David Clifton, University of Oxford
  • DEsign for healthy ageing: a smart system to decrease LONELINESS for older people (DELONELINESS) – led by Professor Wei Liu, King’s College London and Professor Yu Shi, University of Chester
  • PROTECT: Predictive approaches in managing long-term conditions: from remote monitoring data to digital biomarkers – led by Professor Payam Barnaghi, Imperial College London
  • Home Heat Health (HHH): Sleep in the city – led by Professor Kevin Lomas, Loughborough University
  • Facilitating health and wellbeing by developing systems for early recognition of urinary tract infections – led by Professor Kia Nazarpour, University of Edinburgh
  • Incidental Interaction: Novel Technology to Support Elders-as-Athletes through Augmenting Everyday Interactions – led by Professor M.C. Schraefel at University of Southampton
  • I’M-ACTIVE: Intelligent Multimodal Assessment and Coaching Through Identification of Vulnerabilities in older pEople – led by Professor Alessandro Di Nuovo, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Digital PhysioOT: a home digital physio and occupational therapy technology for reversing frailty and keeping people moving – led by Professor Helen Dawes, University of Exeter
  • Engaging Users in Smell Self-Care at Home – led by Professor Marianna Obrist, UCL
  • Smart sensors for a wearable-free and contactless virtual ward at home – led by Professor Khalid Rajab, Queen Mary University of London
  • Transforming Parkinson’s disease clinical management with integrated digital health technologies – led by Professor Marloes Peeters, Newcastle University
  • Multifunctional Flooring: Design for Independent Living – led by Professor Iman Mohagheghian, University of Surrey
  • Using high temporal resolution sensor data to support independent living – led by Professor Markus Mueller, University of Exeter

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