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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W031434/1
Title: DEsign for healthy ageing: a smart system to decrease LONELINESS for older people (DELONELINESS)
Principal Investigator: Liu, Dr W
Other Investigators:
Matcham, Dr F Tinker, Professor A Ourselin, Professor S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Housing LIN Ltd KYMIRA Ltd Thrive Wearables
Department: Engineering
Organisation: Kings College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 02 May 2022 Ends: 01 May 2025 Value (£): 968,372
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Human Communication in ICT
Med.Instrument.Device& Equip. Mental Health
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
EP/W031442/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
23 Feb 2022 SI Transform health at home Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Loneliness is a growing health concern in a rapidly ageing society. As Age UK noted in 2018, 1.4 million older people class themselves as often lonely, and it is estimated this will rise to 2 million people over the aged of 50 by 2025. Loneliness, typically defined as a "discrepancy between one's desired and achieved levels of social relations" is generally experienced by over one third of older people. The subjective feeling of loneliness has been associated with a range of negative outcomes including increased prevalence of physical and mental illness, all-cause mortality, and risk of self-harm. Whilst issues of loneliness may be overlooked by health and social service professionals, the COVID-19 pandemic could have accelerated these issues due to lockdown. Reduced access to social support networks, community events and family highlight the need to detect and support those who are lonely at home. It is of paramount importance to refine methods of identifying loneliness in those who are isolated to allow timely and effective intervention. This proposal aims to develop a smart monitoring and communication system with multifunctional electronics built into textiles used as wearables and home furniture to measure loneliness levels in older people.

The timely and accurate identification of loneliness of older people will enable informed care choices at home. The main objective of this research is to determine different levels of loneliness via bespoke multi-sensing monitoring. This could be used to identify those at risk of loneliness and highlight priorities for targeted intervention. Prompt actions to identify and help lonely older people would help to decrease the risk of developing serious healthcare issues and help support them to live independently.

DELONELINESS is an interdisciplinary project bringing academic experts from Social Gerontology, Psychology, Design, Smart Composite Material, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and industrial partners as well as policy makers to: (i) to understand the conditions of being lonely and (ii) to develop a smart system to measure and monitor loneliness. The diverse team represents individuals from a range of ethnicities, gender identifications and career stages.

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