Ulster University joins Euro-wide collaboration to digitise elderly care

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This initiative will deploy new technologies to assist Europe's rapidly ageing population.

By U2B Staff 

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Ulster University has recently joined an inter-disciplinary European health research initiative to elevate the quality of life for Europe’s ageing population through the use of assisted living technology. 

The university, along with the Medicines Optimisation Innovation Centre has joined 36 other partners across 14 European countries in a 4-year research initiative called Smart and Healthy Ageing through People Engaging in Supportive Systems (SHAPES). 

The €21 million research project is funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 plan and is led by the Assisted Living and Learning (ALL) Institute at Maynooth University. 


According to Ulster University Engineering Research Director Professor Dewar Finlay in a media statement, Ulster’s role in the SHAPES initiative will be to leverage its expertise in data analytics and healthcare technology research through UX engineering, data analytics, exosystem business models, impact assessment and activities relating to the development of health technology standards and interoperability. 

Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office reported that at the start of 2019, 101.1 million people in the EU had reached the age of 65, consisting of 20 percent of the total population. It is projected that this share will increase to 29 percent by 2050. 

These elderly citizens of Europe are at greater risk of cognitive impairment, various chronic health conditions that may hamper their daily routines and have negative consequences for their independence and quality of life. 

Ulster University
Advanced technology can be used to aid the elderly in their daily lives. Source: Artur Łuczka/Unsplash. 

The SHAPES research initiative aims to help these citizens through the large-scale deployment of integrated digital solutions in health and care delivery to bring greater independence and improved quality of life for these citizens across Europe. 

The initiative involves developing a platform that integrates smart digital solutions to collect and analyse elderly citizens’ health, environmental and lifestyle information, identify their needs and provide personalised solutions. The data involved will be collected by upholding the individual’s data protection and trust. 

“Ulster University is a recognised leader in data analytics and healthcare technology research. Caring for an ageing population is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society. Smart technologies are helping to move care out of hospital and into the home, reducing pressure on the healthcare system,” said Professor Finlay. 


The team from Ulster University includes multidisciplinary experts such as Professors Dewar Finlay and Jim Mclaughlin from the School of Engineering, Dr Shirley Davey from Ulster Business School, and Dr Raymond Bond and Dr Mark Donnelly from the School of Computing. 

“(We are) excited to be collaborating with a wide range of partners across 14 European countries on this project to improve Smart and Healthy Ageing. This is the first time MOIC have been involved in such a large scale project to improve healthcare and promote independence in an ageing community,” said Medicines Optimisation Innovation Centre (MOIC) Director Professor Mike Scott.