Maynooth University has announced that it will lead SHAPES, a major new health research project that will undertake research aimed at helping Europe’s ageing population to live actively and independently at home in their communities with the support of assisted living technology.
Funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020, the research project has a value of €21 million and consists of a consortium of 36 partners across 14 European countries, and will run for four years. Led by the ALL (Assisting Living & Learning) Institute at Maynooth University, it is the largest European Commission funded health research grant to ever be led by an Irish university.
The SHAPES acronym stands for Smart and Healthy Ageing through People Engaging in supportive Systems, and Irish partners include UCC and Access Earth Ltd (a Maynooth Campus Company); along with the University of Ulster and the Northern Health and Social Services Trust, in Northern Ireland.
Citizens in a rapidly ageing European population are at greater risk of cognitive impairment, frailty and multiple chronic health conditions with considerable negative consequences for their independence, quality of life and for the sustainability of health and care systems. To help address this the SHAPES research aims to foster the large-scale deployment of integrated digital solutions which will bring greater independence and improved quality of life to citizens while demonstrating significant efficiency gains in health and care delivery across Europe.
Commenting on the launch, Professor Philip Nolan, President of Maynooth University, said:
“This project is an important milestone for Maynooth University. Issues relating to age, health and well-being, and social inclusion affect communities globally. We are proud that we have the opportunity to play a leading role in this important research, working with a diverse group of experts and institutions from across Europe. The project is also a welcome endorsement of the strength of our research culture at Maynooth University, our ambition, our interdisciplinary approach, and our continued focus on research with meaningful impact.”
Mac MacLachlan, Professor of Psychology and Social Inclusion at Maynooth’s Department of Psychology, and co-director of the Assisting Living and Learning (ALL) Institute, who is co-leading the SHAPES project commented: “The emphasis of the SHAPES research is on providing quality community and living experiences which will lead to maintaining people in their homes. As of now, we have a lot of different technologies available to older people and people with disabilities. Someone might have a hearing aid, a wheelchair, home sensors and perhaps a ‘smart’ pillbox - but they don’t necessarily all work together. Working with our European colleagues, we want to bring assistive technologies together with connected health.”
Dr Michael Cooke, Assistant Professor in Applied Psychology and co-lead of the SHAPES research project commented: “The SHAPES research project is highly interdisciplinary and will look at the interactions between people and technology because, all too often, technology developers and innovators can come up with new devices that don’t meet the needs of ordinary people in their own contexts. Therefore, our focus is on usability so that older people can focus on what they can achieve with the technology, rather than worrying about how it is supposed to work.”
Further information on the SHAPES project partners is available here
Photo caption: (l-r) Dr Michael Cooke, Assistant Prof in Applied Psychology; Dr Deirdre Desmond, Associate Prof, Department of Psychology and co-director of ALL Institute; Dr Rudi Villing, Assistant Prof in the Department of Electronic Engineering and Prof Mac MacLachlan, Co-Director of the ALL Institute, with PAL TIAGo robot funded with the support of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)