The future of ageing

Current Project

Current in-depth inquiry

Our latest inquiry will explore ethical questions in relation to the role of science and technology in helping people live well in old age.

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Health technologies and the future of ageing: survey for practitioners who work with older people

The deadline for responses to this survey has now passed. If you'd like to submit evidence to this project, please contact Kate Harvey.

The project is seeking practitioners’ views on ethical issues relating to older people and the growing use of health technologies. The project is being led by a working group appointed by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

The scope of this survey

We are interested in a wide range of health-related technologies including, but not limited to:

  • Assistive technologies: from the use of assistive robots in healthcare to provide physical and cognitive assistance to older people, to the use of telehealth equipment to assist people to manage long-term conditions at home;
  • Communications technologies: from video software to keep in touch remotely to ‘big button’ easy-to-use mobile phones;
  • Monitoring technologies: for example, devices that can detect if a person has had a fall;
  • New diagnostic and treatment options emerging from biomedical research: for example, developments in identifying biomarkers that predict age-related conditions;
  • Design-led technologies: for example, examining how smart fabrics and textiles can support older people to live independently;
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies: for example, to support the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease; and
  • Virtual reality (VR): for example, by assessing if VR supports older people’s emotional and social wellbeing.

Our interest in these technologies spans those that are already beginning to come into general use, and those that are in development.

Who we would like to hear from

We would like to hear from practitioners who work with older people. You might be a geriatrician, nurse, care worker, researcher, healthcare assistant, or therapist. You might work in the NHS, a care home, the community, or private practice.

Wherever you’re based, and whatever your role, if you work with older people, we welcome your views on the nine questions and points we raise in this survey. Please feel free to skip any questions you don’t want to answer.

However, if you would rather provide your thoughts in a more free-form way, we have also provided a space for you to contribute your stories or experiences.

How to respond

You can complete an online version of this survey or download a word document.

Closing date

The closing date for this survey is 2 August 2021.

What will happen next?

At the end of the project, we will make a series of recommendations to those who are responsible for the development and use of technologies for older people. To make sure that we make recommendations that focus on the right points, we need to know how technologies are, or could be, used by those who work with older people, and any issues that their use might raise. This is in addition to other evidence-gathering we will undertake with older people themselves.

Contact details

If you have any questions about this survey, including how we will use your response, please contact our team.

The questions / points we would welcome your views on

  1. Please describe how you use any of these technologies to support older people.
  2. In your work with older people, what conditions or issues do you find are especially helped by any of these technologies?
  3. Do any technologies you currently use in the context of your work cause you concern? Why / why not?
  4. Do any technologies in development cause you concern in the context of your future work? Why / why not?
  5. Do you think technologies will change how your role is carried out in the future? If so, how?
  6. Do you think that there are any barriers to people’s use of technologies as they age? If so, what are those barriers? How might they be overcome?
  7. Do you think these technologies will impact all older people in the same way? Please explain your answer.
  8. Please provide any other points you would like to make on how technologies are used in the context of your work with older people.
  9. Are there any resources on technologies to support older people that you think we should read and consider? Please list here if so.

Your stories

If you would like to tell us a story of your experiences with technologies in the context of your work, please share.

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