The ‘Mindings’ App, created by entrepreneur Stuart Arnott, gives users a way to communicate with friends and relatives anywhere across the globe through a ‘simplified Facebook-style’ approach. It gives relatives the opportunity to send photos, reminders and messages to their loved ones, and to receive confirmation that their content has been received. The user doesn’t need any experience with IT at all.
A pilot scheme of the app run across Cambridgeshire and Central Bedfordshire by the East of England Local Government Association, which tested the use of digital technology in improving the quality of life of older people, has proved a success with its testers.
Initial indications suggest the technological solution could help users stay in regular contact with their families, increase confidence and reduce feelings of loneliness – at a time when national surveys say the older generation are feeling more isolated than ever.
The pilot scheme, funded by NHS Midlands and East, involved giving the app to 30 local residents who are over 70 years old and who are not confident with using IT. It aimed to see whether the ability to stay in touch with family and friends through social media and digital technology worked in increasing confidence and quality of life.
Initial findings from the pilot scheme show that 38% of users reported an increase in quality of life during the trial, with 43% saying it had an impact on their happiness. On the whole users said they felt more ‘in the loop’ with family news thanks to the app.
Stuart Arnott, creator of Mindings said: “In the UK there are 10 million people over the age of 65 and 2 million of those people have less than weekly contact with a friend or family member. Even worse, 1 million would describe themselves as ‘chronically lonely’. One man who took part in the trial told me he had regular contact with his family. ‘Regular’ turned out to be once every three weeks.
“Mindings was borne out of this problem. Grandchildren seeing their grandparents regularly is much less common nowadays, and although as a generation we’re all ‘connected’ through social media, this often doesn’t stretch to our older family members who don’t always use digital technology. If the family member lives alone or is in poor health, then lack of regular family contact can make them feel lonely, vulnerable, or even ignored.
“I didn’t set out to create a solution to this problem, Mindings started out as a personal project, but through the work I’ve undertaken and the trials and tests carried out we can see a real difference in quality of life and happiness of those people, and it’s all down to simple communication,” he added.
‘Mindings’ won a Dragon’s Den style competition run by the East of England Local Government Association, which aimed to find and award funding to a product or service which would tackle social isolation, improve wellbeing and so keeping people in their own homes for longer.