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CAKE Mix: Ageing Well

‘Ageing Well’ was the topic for our 29th Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) event – an opportunity for our speakers to share innovative approaches and compelling projects within the ageing agenda. A broad audience, from young students to retirees, explored this very current topic that encompasses academic research, business support, physical activity and sessions aimed at enhancing creative engagement. 

CAKE Mix is your chance to catch up with the event and see what unfolded on Twitter #FuseCAKE.

This Creative Fuse CAKE was housed in the elegant Marlborough Suite at the Life Meetings and Events – an ideal venue to host one of CAKE’s biggest turnouts yet.

We are delighted to have worked with Newcastle University’s Arrow programme team, who co-sponsored this successful event – we hope you found the talks and networking informative and worthwhile.

Arrow aims to knit connections between North East small businesses (SMEs) and experts in Newcastle University to innovate new products and services. Importantly, Arrow has resource to do qualifying projects for eligible SMEs, particularly for projects within the ‘ageing well’ theme where they work with colleagues from the National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA).

Outlining the context in which NICA operates, our first speaker was Graham Armitage, who evidenced NICA’s role as being a catalyst for opportunities for UK industry leadership in meeting the needs of an ageing society. Given the fact that ageing is not a recent phenomenon, but rather has been happening for 200 years, Graham stressed the importance to understand how to innovate in the ageing sector, wherein it’s possible to build new partnerships between different small organisations.

Linking knowledge to practice, NICA aims to become a Teaching and Learning Hub implementing knowledge exchange, executive education and continuous professional development. As well as this, NICA wants to integrate citizen and expert insights and perspectives to inform product and service innovation. Tangible outcome of this is the free online course “An Introduction to Ageing for Innovators” which provides a background to the ageing population, its impact and opportunities for innovation.

Our second speaker was Bethany Ainsley who contributed her experience to evidence the benefits of innovation and creativity to develop healthy ageing. Ten years ago, Bethany started her business journey when she funded Nouveau Wellbeing group. Finding out that around 20 million people are inactive, Bethany pursues the promotion and development of new methods that could help adults to increase coordination.

Reflecting on the strong relationship existing between physical activity and mental health, Bethany started ActivCare Coaching – a social enterprise that offers a variety of training to organisations and local authorities, such as Age UK Teesside, Hartlepool United Community Sports Foundation, Middlesbrough Council and Barchester Health Care.

Bethany explained the philosophy behind ActivCare Coaching’s one-day full accredited training programmes – a cost-effective and efficient way to train staff. Additionally, the monthly subscription packages enable continual support to care homes and organisations in a way which is best suited to their needs and budget.

What a better way to understand the passion and experience that stimulate ActivCare Coaching activities than through first hand experience? Bethany gave the audience a taste of the positive impact that Activcare Coaching can have on the lives, health and happiness of older individuals. So that’s what happened…we all got moving!

Next up, joining the line-up of speakers was Bella Smith, project lead of Celebrating Age at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, a project devised and delivered with a range of collaborators, and key partner Thirteen Group. Bella gave insight into how Celebrating Age aims to encourage the creative engagement of the over 55s in Middlesbrough and cultivate new ways of thinking about ageing to make Middlesbrough a supportive and positive place to grow older.

Bella clearly delivered the commitment of Celebrating Age and of its volunteers to activate existing community spaces around the town to ensure that people are working in environments that they feel are familiar and comfortable. Doing this, Celebrating Age wants social and creative practices to become a sustainable part of people’s lives.

Footage collected from the sessions gave a lovely insight into the project that uncovers active sessions including making, story-telling, music and conversation to share and learn skills as well as to support a sense of belonging.

Concluding the event was Elizabeth Howe, therapeutic musician at Music Stellar, who filled the Marlborough Suite with the soft sound of her lyre.

Through her presentation “We are not taught about our own ageing: through creativity we can teach ourselves”, Elizabeth reflected on the inevitability of ageing and explained how to deal with loss as we age.

Her lyre performance wanted to recall a state of freedom where we can transcend what’s happening and then find a way of ageing well.

The final Q&A session allowed for further discussion of important topics linked to our speakers’ presentations. A common theme was around intergenerational experience within families.

Two audience members shared similar concerns about longevity meaning that older people were looking after their own parents well into their own retirement. Another audience member raised the issue of safeguarding when it comes to helping elderly neighbours alone.

Our speakers recommended using common sense and signing up for ‘Dementia Friends’ training, whilst an audience member from Age UK advised helping through more official channels such as the charity’s volunteering programme. Takeaway advice was that we shouldn’t let fear and apprehension stop us from helping others.

The topic ‘Ageing Well’ has definitely nurtured interesting and thought-provoking insights from the speakers, blending a more formal and academic perspective with robust creative approaches. It’s been great seeing people take an interest in Ageing Innovation and Creativity – regardless of age, movement, connection and companionship are vital elements for a positive and lifelong ageing.

Newcastle University’s Arrow programme

If you would like to explore options to support a project for your business, please get in touch and we will arrange a friendly call or meeting to identify what we can do to help. T. 0191 208 5488 E. arrow.admin@ncl.ac.uk