Healthy ageing through digital innovations

With the rapid development of technologies, there is a huge potential to develop e-Health interventions targeting the growing population of older people. 

Examples of Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research (PIHR) work include technological innovation to support disease management, intelligent devices to improve autonomous living and mobility in older persons, and specific needs for active and happy ageing.


eHealth Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (EPIC) is a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary project, initially funded in 2017 by a grant of £2.7 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the South West Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), and received a further £4m to extend the project until 2023. 

This programme has focused on the production of truly useful innovations which could improve quality of life and boost wellbeing for many.
We welcome ideas that:

  • Address difficulties of providing care in remote locations, such as telepresence or internet of things
  • Consider how to make technology more accessible to all; including differences in IT literacy, sight challenges, age or hearing loss
  • Innovations which address loneliness and isolation, and the strengthening of support networks and community.
  • Integrate with existing systems, to either improve user experience, strengthen their use, or offer cost savings solutions to NHS trust.
  • Boost the tech sector in our region, including in robotics and devices.

Professor Ray Jones

Professor Arunangsu Chatterjee


This is a £2.7 million project that uses artificial intelligence to adapt and personalise live radio, with the aim of transforming the lives of people living alone with dementia. It addresses key causes of hospital admission for people with dementia, such as agitation and not taking medication correctly. As a result, it is hoped quality of life will improve and people will be able to remain living independently at home for longer.

 (Miranda, Banerjee).

Movecare: Multiple-actors Virtual Empathic Caregivers for the Elderly

This Horizon 2020 funded project is co-ordinated in Milan with the University of Plymouth's Centre for Health Technology leading a €440,000 strand on social interaction, supporting independent living through the use of robotic companions. Movecare allows researchers at the University to study the University's Pepper robot in a more realistic, home-like environment rather than in a lab, to identify the impact on the elderly.

Professor Ray Jones


This 2.5 million project funded by the European Regional Development Fund's Interreg 2 Mers programme aims to keep the ageing population independent for longer in their own or chosen home, increasing their quality of life and safety, and improving their environment. AGE'IN is led by the Boulogne sur mer Développement Côte d'Opale in France. In Plymouth, we are exploring the impact of robots as assistive technologies, from supporting patients' cognitive abilities to providing remote monitoring and support in daily activities.

Generating Older Active Lives Digitally

This ESRC-funded project will examine how to design and deliver digital resources to provide and engage older people in structured activity programmes and improve health and wellbeing. Working with charity and community groups in the South West and with older people and younger participants living in the community, as well as residents from eight care homes in Cornwall, we will explore experiences of using VR equipment, gaming and fitness wearables; social VR walking – care home residents virtually walking with younger participants; VR environments – creating location-based experiences; and sports and activity focused reminiscence.

(Jones, Asthana, Chatterjee, Gaudl, Križaj, Veliz Reyes, Warren, Willis).

Healthy Ageing through Innovation in Rural Europe

HAIRE is a £4.5 million project that works across eight rural communities – two in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the UK to improve health and care quality and help to create an economy of wellbeing. In Plymouth, we are building on the success of projects such as EPIC to explore the potential of transforming lives through health innovation.

Dr Arunangsu Chatterjee

Autonomous Telemedicine

Cataract surgery is the most common operation at most hospitals and the NHS sees 450,000 procedures every year. With an increasingly ageing population, the number of patients with cataracts is set to double by 2050. With high levels of patient safety and few complications, cataract surgery still requires a post-operative checks to monitor complications and assess success which is normally done with face-to-face appointments. Not only do these appointments add pressure to already stretched services but they are also high risk for the virus transmission due to the close proximity of clinician and patient. This NIHR funded project will evaluate the effectiveness, usability and acceptability of a natural language AI assistant and call system, compared to an expert human clinician.


Intergenerational Co-design - ICONIC.

Older people's connection with communities, groups and activities within their neighbourhood are essential for healthy ageing but as society becomes ever more digital there is a growing risk of social exclusion. The Centre for Health Technology's Intergenerational Codesign of Novel technologies In Coastal communitites (ICONIC) project aims to improve digital inclusion both for older and younger people. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the project will recruit 80 older (aged 50+) people, including both people living at home and those in care homes, and 40 younger (aged 16–20) people. Participants will work with researchers to codevelop novel technologies aimed at creating connections in the region.

Using Digital Technology to Manage Parkinson's

The Centre for Health Technology's Dr Edward Meinert has been working with the Applied Parkinson's Research Group on digital innovations to help monitor and manage Parkinson's disease. This includes a Parkinson's UK funded project to develop a non-motor symptom app for smartphones, tablets and PCs.