For the last year Mindings has undergone a pilot study across Cambridgeshire and Central Bedfordshire, to trial the use of digital technology in improving the quality of life of older people.
The study, funded by NHS Midlands and East, involved giving Mindings to 30 local residents over 70 years old who had been identified as being socially isolated. The aim was to see whether the ability to stay in touch with family and friends through social media and digital technology worked in increasing confidence and quality of life.
Initial indications suggest that Mindings helped users stay in regular contact with their families, increased their confidence and reduced their feelings of loneliness.
It was found that 38% of users reported an increase in quality of life during the trial, with 43% saying it had an impact on their happiness. On the whole users said they felt more ‘in the loop’ with family news thanks to Mindings.
Mary Walklate, a Cambridgeshire trial participant said:
“I was excited to take part in the trial and my grand-daughter is sending me messages and pictures of my great grand-daughter every day. I’m also getting messages from my daughter in the USA and my son said he’ll start sending me pictures from the Philippines too!”
Glen Johnson, who lives in a sheltered housing scheme in Central Bedfordshire said:
“I love seeing the photos my family send me. It’s lovely in the morning to walk into my lounge and see some new pictures of my grandchildren and great grandchildren – it really cheers me up. They think it’s brilliant too!”
Local Authority validation
Councillor Carole Hegley, Central Bedfordshire’s Executive Member for Social Care, Health and Housing, said:
“the Mindings service is a great way for people to stay in contact with their loved ones in a really simple but meaningful way. The beauty of it is, that as well as sharing lovely photos and messages, it is also a great way of sending reminders about important things like doctors appointments”.
Cecilia Tredget, Managing Director of the East of England Local Government Association, who ran the trial added:
“What is particularly interesting to us is that 81%, of participants reported a very positive reaction to having technology made available to them. There’s evidence that participating in the trial has ‘demystified’ technology, by introducing it in a ‘gentle’ way and helped people to recognise the potential that learning to use technology has for their lives.”
Stuart Arnott, creator of Mindings said:
“In the UK there are 10 million people over the age of 65 and 2 million of those people have less than weekly contact with a friend or family member. Even worse, 1 million describe themselves as ‘chronically lonely’. Mindings was borne out of this problem. Although as a generation we’re all ‘connected’ through social media, this often doesn’t stretch to our older family members who don’t always use digital technology. I’m delighted that we’ve made a real difference in quality of life and happiness for the people in the trial”.
The Mindings founders are currently participating in Cabinet Office-supported Public Service Launchpad business accelerator programme, developing Mindings as a social business. Stuart said:
“We want to take everything that we’ve learned from our experiences of creating and trialing Mindings with families – and use it to support people who have fewer opportunities of support from family or friends. We’re really excited about trialing our new “Groupings” concept that we’re currently developing with Royal and South Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust that links users with a supportive community who can socially engage with them and support their independent living”.