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“Online Group Activities For Older People: Learning from Lockdown and Beyond”

Over 40 people joined Open Age for the official launch of research undertaken by Dr Alex Evans, into the use of online group activities for older people during and since the onset of the COVID Pandemic. 

See a recording of the event here on YouTube.

During the periods of national lockdown in 2020-22, Open Age, like many similar small local charities, were forced to rethink how we could deliver our activities while keeping our members safe. Despite no previous experience of online delivery, we took the decision to develop a Zoom-based programme of activities. We rapidly scaled up to a weekly programme of over 100 hours of activities, with around 500-600 older people regularly taking part each month. Our online programme was a huge success that challenged many of our preconceptions about what our members would and would not enjoy. 

Our experiences during lockdown have led us to believe that there is a greater role for online options in the delivery of services for older people than is currently on offer. We want the sector to look again at the benefits of online delivery. We are not advocating that online should replace in-person activities but we do believe that older people should have the choice to access online where they want to. 

This research, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and the Dunhill Medical Trust, was commissioned from an external professional researcher, Dr Alex Evans, and is completely independent - and all the more powerful for it. The findings of this research support Open Age’s belief that the sector must invest in designing and delivering online services in such a way as to make them as appealing and accessible to older people as possible. 

Open Age have since been awarded UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding as part of the Healthy Ageing Challenge to develop ‘Open Age Online’, a new platform to expand our digital capabilities and build on our popular face-to-face services. We have used Dr Alex’s findings to inform the service design of Open Age Online, and we hope the wider older people’s sector will find this research offers valuable insight into a developing area of work.

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Open Age Charity Wins Major Sport Award for Innovative Physical Activities During Covid-19

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