Health tech trialled by older people in Thornhill

Older people in Thornhill trial new digital health and wellbeing activities.

Professor Anna Whittaker of the University of Stirling with participant Laura Peirse
Professor Anna Whittaker of the University of Stirling with participant Laura Peirse

Older people in Thornhill were among the first to trial new digital health and wellbeing activities co-designed by their peers thanks to a University of Stirling initiative in partnership with Stirling Council and funded by Forth Valley and Lomond Community Led Local Development Programme (CLLD).

Participants had the opportunity to get active by playing arcade-style video games linked to their body movements via a webcam, explore places through Virtual Reality, or get involved in online music and movement classes to help develop their balance and strength, and maintain independence.

The activities were trialled at a session held in the Smart Village Hub at Thornhill Community Hall, Stirlingshire, one of several sessions held thanks to the £10k grant from Forth Valley and Lomond CLLD Local Action Group.

The ‘Smart Village – Digital Health Technology in Health Promotion for Older People' initiative gives older people in locations across the Stirling Council area the opportunity to try their hand at the new resources. A further session is planned in Cowie, in May.  

The resources on show were shaped with the support of older people through the Generating Older Active Lives Digitally (GOALD) project, co-led by Professor Anna Whittaker, of the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, along with partners at the University of Plymouth.

The project used groups of older people of all abilities, as well as staff and some young people, to examine how to best design and deliver digital resources to engage older people in structured physical and social activity that aims to improve their health and wellbeing.

Significant benefits

Professor Anna Whittaker said: “Digital technology can play a significant role in helping us all to stay connected and keep active. There are significant benefits for older people that digitally enabled activities can be a tool to support, but it's essential these resources are fit for purpose for older users.

“By working with older people to help shape technologies that work for them, we can be confident that older users can make the most of these new or redesigned products and services.”   

Professor Whittaker and colleagues hope that the taster sessions will lead to greater uptake of the new digital equipment, which can be used to support individuals and families at home, as well as group activity in care homes and community groups.

The initiative was welcomed by Stirling Council.

Healthy, fulfilling lives

Convener of Stirling Council’s Community Wellbeing and Housing Committee, Cllr Gerry McGarvey said: “Older people are increasingly using digital technology as part of their everyday lives and there is huge potential benefits in the use of this tech to improve the health and wellbeing of this age-group.

“We all want our older people to live healthy, fulfilling lives across our communities. This innovative scheme in Thornhill will ensure the needs of our older people are considered in the development of these digital activities that can help them stay physically and mentally active.”

Participant Aileen Denholm
Participant Aileen Denholm