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  • 2018DhruvSharmaPhD

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Fostering social innovation for active ageing: tackling later life loneliness

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date2018
Number of pages422
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Later life loneliness is a major social issue as it is increasing alongside an upward global population trend which predicts that nearly 22% of the world population will be aged 60 years or over by 2050. This ‘silver tsunami’, an unparalleled growth of the older population, will exert socioeconomic pressure globally on healthcare, housing demand, consumer segmentation, etc. This thesis suggests that currently there is an underrepresentation of radical innovation, and underutilisation of digital technologies in developing loneliness interventions for older adults, and argues that due to the unprecedented nature of this demographic surge, we cannot rely on conventional ways of thinking and doing things.
This thesis proposes a theoretical framework called Social Innovation for Active Ageing (SIFAA), as a way to develop more radical-digital loneliness interventions. SIFAA blends social innovation and activity theory of ageing and in doing so, expands current knowledge in both areas. To highlight the strengths and limitations of SIFAA, this thesis uses a triangulated approach, and discusses findings from a systematic literature review, interviews with experts, and an action research based trial. While the 196 loneliness interventions examined in the systematic literature review highlight the current gap in knowledge represented by a lack of radical-digital loneliness interventions, the interviews with 9 experts emphasise possible reasons for this gap. The action research based trial carried out during 16 weeks of ethnographic fieldwork on the other hand, offers practical insights into operationalising SIFAA to conceive and implement a radical-digital loneliness intervention for older adults. This thesis also highlights the vital role that digital technologies can play in facilitating the development and implementation of radical loneliness interventions.
By suggesting the hybridisation of social innovation and activity theory of ageing, this research argues that a contextual view be adapted to design suitable loneliness interventions for older adults, such that the ageing population becomes a part of the solution, and not just the problem. This thesis suggests that by using creative tools and techniques, designers can either help develop new radical-digital loneliness interventions, or transform or scale existing interventions such that they represent radical innovation, and utilise digital technologies. It offers a framework utilising SIFAA that uses the tools and techniques developed during this study to deploy radical-digital loneliness interventions. The discussion herein is aimed at making a positive contribution to the field of developing, implementing, and evaluating non- pharmacological loneliness interventions for older adults.