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Using technology to help manage loneliness resulting from COVID-19

Researchers are developing new technologies which will seek to mitigate loneliness among older people who are socially distanced due to COVID-19.

Senior gentleman sitting alone
The project seeks to understand the impact of social distancing

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is collaborating on the project, Social and Emotional Resilience for the Vulnerable Impacted by the COVID-19 Emergency (SERVICE), led by Blaine Price, Professor of Computing at the OU, along with the University of Exeter.

The project, which has just received £400,000 from the UK Research and Innovation Ideas to Address COVID-19 fund, will work with communities in the over 50s age group, together with the carers and linkworkers who support them.

The aim is to develop an app and platform that helps users to share their experiences with their supporters in a secure and private environment. These data will also be used to analyse the effect of the pandemic on these communities and to recommend personalised interventions to help manage their emotional wellbeing.

This 18-month project will collaborate with NTU’s Trent Ageing Panel and Age UK Exeter to produce a working prototype within six months, which will then be tested and rolled out.

Dr Clifford Stevenson, Professor of Social Psychology at NTU, said: “Loneliness among socially vulnerable groups has clearly been exacerbated by the current pandemic. Our research at NTU into the lived experience of loneliness among older adults will help our computer science colleagues design effective digital interventions.”

Project lead Professor Price said: “This project seeks to contribute to understanding of and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts due to unprecedented social distancing, by digitally facilitating support/carer interactions and gathering data to assist personalized interventions and policy. The aim is to analyse what we find so that we can design new platforms and tools to address any gaps.”

If you or someone you care for is an older adult impacted emotionally by COVID-19 the researchers would greatly value your experiences, which you can share online 

The project is an extension of a previous project led by the OU, also with Exeter University and Age UK Exeter and Milton Keynes: STRETCH (Socio-Technical Resilience for Enhancing Targeted Community Healthcare) which aims to coordinate circles of support for older adults.

Read more about Professor Stevenson's recent research into the importance of family support when coping with financial and economic uncertainty.

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    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students.

    NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience.

    The university has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With nearly 32,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. With an international student population of more than 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

    The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was awarded University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019.

    A total of 82% of its graduates go on to graduate entry employment or graduate entry education or training within six months of leaving. Student satisfaction is high: NTU achieved an 87% satisfaction score in the 2020 National Student Survey, above the sector average of 83%.

Using technology to help manage loneliness resulting from COVID-19

Published on 2 September 2020
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Social Sciences

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