Four northern regions, including the North East are recognised by Europe for expertise in active and healthy ageing.
Four Northern health organisations have received international recognition, for their expertise in ageing, at a ceremony as part of the European Summit on Digital Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing in Brussels.
North East Coalition for Active and Healthy Ageing was amongst other northern regions such as the Greater Manchester AHSN, The Innovation Agency (North West Coast AHSN) and Yorkshire and Humber AHSN, who were awarded for their ‘innovative and comprehensive approach to healthy ageing with concrete evidence of the impact of their work on patients’ health’.
The Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) coordinated alignment and gave strategic guidance for the bids, which means the four organisations have become three star ‘Reference Sites’ for the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing.
Dr Hakim Yadi, CEO of the NHSA, said: “The North’s excellence in healthy and active ageing is second to none, with centres of international importance located here.
“This assessment of work by a panel of independent experts demonstrates the excellent research being done across the region in this field, and its effectiveness at putting innovative ideas into practice to make a very real difference to people’s lives.”
Regional excellence in ageing
The North East Coalition for Active and Healthy Ageing site includes a strong emphasis on creating wealth and economic growth from active and healthy ageing innovation. This has been a key message from Newcastle University’s ageing research environment for a number of years, including its Changing Age for Business ERDF project. It is also a major focus of the AHSNs and reflected in the recent award to Newcastle University of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing.
Yorkshire & Humber AHSN has developed and implemented an electronic Frailty Index (eFI). This uses information from patients’ electronic health records to enable GPs and primary care clinicians to proactively identify older people who are at risk of developing mild, moderate and severe frailty so appropriate, proactive, goal-orientated care pathways can be devised.
Greater Manchester established the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub so that GM partners can coordinate a strategic response to the opportunities and challenges of an ageing population.
The Innovation Agency (AHSN for the North West Coast), is involved in an NHS ‘Test Bed’ in Lancashire and Cumbria, in which the NHS has partnered with companies and social enterprises to support frail elderly people with dementia and other long term conditions, avoiding unnecessary admissions to hospital.
Active ageing recognition by Europe
The North applications underwent a Pan-European peer review during May and June and a panel of independent experts from the European Commission, the Reference Site Collaborative Network (RSCN), and research and consultancy firm empirica validated review results.
The European Commission defines a Reference Site as, “regions, and cities, integrated hospitals/care organisations that implement a comprehensive, innovation-based approach to active and healthy ageing and can give evidence and concrete illustrations of their impact on the ground”.
John Farrell, Strategic Adviser of the Reference Site Collaborative Network (RSCN), said: “The Reference Sites in the North of England are among some of the most advanced Reference Sites in Europe.
“Their collaborative approach in engaging health and care providers, government, industry and researchers in the development and adoption of innovative solutions have helped to improve health and care outcomes for patients, and offered new models and approaches that will help transform the way services are delivered.
“This recognition along with the technological and innovative solutions being developed will help to open new commercial markets across Europe and globally.”
The European Commission is preparing a series of support activities to assist the new Reference Sites by stimulating exchange of experiences, promoting technical training and the transfer of innovative practices, as well as highlighting at European level the work the Reference Sites are delivering. A total of 74 regional and local organisations have been awarded Reference Site status.