I saw an image recently and felt compelled to retweet it. It said:

Wake Up

You can’t really argue with that.

I’m often referred to as ‘cheesy’ by my colleagues, probably because I share this philosophy and genuinely believe life is simple. It’s how we approach it that often over complicates it.

I attended an extremely stimulating conference at Lancaster University last week, hosted by their Centre for Ageing Research. We heard erudite presentations from expert academics who were able to translate complex statistics into some very clear messages:

1) We’re all likely to live longer
2) Numbers of us over 85 will increase exponentially in the next 30-years
3) At that age we’re likely to have at least 4 chronic conditions to manage
4) The NHS and other care services focus on single disease-based healthcare
5) Cognitive impairment and 24/hr care need is not prevalent at this age
6) And, most importantly, many of this 4th Generation when interviewed feel happy most of the time.

We then heard great stories from individual older people who continued to look after themselves and often care for spouses and other relatives. We also heard about fantastic innovative technologies being co-designed with older people to promote exercise, intergenerational social interaction and FUN. I urge you all to watch this video of the xylophone in the park.

So it got me thinking. Massive institutions are incredibly difficult to transform. Where do you start? How can you see any impact for your endeavours? You’ve heard the saying, “you can’t eat the whole elephant in one sitting”. That’s why we’ve stepped away from big infrastructure to start from scratch. Why can’t our peers in the NHS, Local Authorities and across the healthcare sector try new ways of joining up and developing services with the people who receive them by stepping outside of the traditional bureaucratic parameters? Go on, try it. It can be scary, you will make mistakes and have to iterate along the way but the rewards will be incredible.

We’ve abandoned legacy, ditched jargon and focused on a simple proposition:
“We co-create places where older people always have love and companionship, a safety net when they need it, and the ability to lead meaningful lives in the heart of their community.”

So let’s make sure we involve the 4th Generation, see them as an integral resource not a disaster or silver tsunami. We’ll be there sooner than we think!

And to fulfil my cheesy reputation, let me close with a quote from one of my original inspirations:

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?’  Winnie the Pooh

Sara McKee, Evermore Founder & Director of Market Innovation

Follow Sara @SaraMcKeeFRSA