Louth's Living Lab Developing An Age-Friendly Future

"Louth's experience can encourage other counties and cities in Ireland and internationally to sustain their age-friendly initiatives," – Dr John Beard, WHO Director of Ageing (pictured above) The Living Lab Ireland's foremost age-friendly county, Louth is home to a Living Lab for the development of products and services for older people that involves the widespread involvement of participants countywide. It has been recently named as a leading age-friendly example for the world to follow by the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Director of Ageing, Dr John Beard. The Living Lab is one of the most advanced facilities for age-related product and service research in
Europe. It is centred on the campus at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), which is home to two sister research organisations – the Netwell Centre and the Centre for Affective Solutions for Ambient Living Awareness (Casala). It also features 16 smart apartments, The Great Northern Haven, in Dundalk's Barrack Street, which have been constructed specifically to enhance the quality of life of older people. The Netwell Centre The Netwell Centre develops new ideas that enhance the quality of life and well-being of older people and those who care for them. This is done through more integrated community-oriented services, more sustainable home and neighbourhood
design, and more age-friendly technologies. As part of a global network, the team at the Netwell Centre is at the forefront of understanding of ageing and age-friendliness. Their knowledge, insight and experience have enabled them to be highly influential in the development of collaborative stakeholder engagements including the Great Northern Haven smart apartment complex and the foundation of Ireland's Age Friendly


Louth's Living Lab Developing An Age-Friendly Future

Age-Friendly Business chair Gavin Duffy (above) and members of the Age-Friendly Forum in the 3D Product Development Cave at Casala.


Casala focuses on technology and ageing through research and development, industry linkage and commercialisation. Both organisations work together towards enhancing longer living in smarter places in collaboration with stakeholders within the Louth Age-Friendly County Initiative. Seed funded by Enterprise Ireland, Casala's primary function is working with Irish industry to achieve product innovation, business competitiveness, and market leadership in the emerging Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) and related Connected Health sectors. The AAL environment is an integration of stand-alone assistive technologies, smart homes, mobile c ommunications,
and telehealth services that promote the ability for older people to live independently and age in a place of their choosing. AAL is a relatively new and vibrant field of research, development and investment – driven by the increasing ageing population worldwide. Casala, which features a 3D product development cave, is at the  forefront of this research worldwide and works with many of the industry's market leaders. A telehealth project which Casala trialled in 2010, potentially saved two
lives due to early detection of significant health deterioration, and has the additional potential to wipe millions off the annual cost of hospital care for acute patients.
In October 2011, as part of a large European project, 60 houses in the county were fitted with interactive touchscreens that will allow people with acute conditions to be monitored remotely in their own homes via bluetooth technology. Great Northern Haven The key aim of the Great Northern Haven Project is to enable people to live
independently in their homes for as long as possible as they get older. In total there are over 2000 sensors and actuators throughout the development, which can be programmed to assist residents and also alert relevant carers if and when help is needed. This project was shortlisted for Engineering Project of the Year, by Engineers Ireland in Noveber 2011.

Age-Friendly Louth Louth is the first Irish county, and one of 33 places worldwide, to meet the criteria of the WHO global age-friendly cities network. The Louth Age-friendly Initiative has built a successful template of how strategic partners such as the local authorities, HSE and enterprise development agencies can work together – one that is now being rolled out across the country. Louth also launched itself as Ireland's first age-friendly business county, and it is planned that Ardee will be Ireland's first age-friendly town. DkIT, in collaboration with DCU, is to launch as Ireland's first age-friendly campus.