First published at mediablends.com on August 31 2016
Although technology plays a key role, the focus will be on the needs and interests of individuals, not the tools.
There's also an ambitious vision for joining up the many ageing organisations and interests in the field to collaborate in a digital-ageing network.
I worked on the first phase of JUD, and as I wrote here, we concluded in May with a game event that played through how organisations, people and key connectors can use digital technology to address life challenges and opportunities, and collaborate to do that.
The background framework for the event, developed with Drew Mackie, was the idea of personal, community and organisational ecosystems - and that's now reflected in the project proposals and network plan. Paddy Hanrahan, who led the first phase of the project, has circulated on update to participants.
The three elements of the plan are:
1 Exploring the role of “conduits” in helping older people use digital technology, or using tech themselves. These may be friends and family, or people in frequent touch with older people. Led by NPC.
2 Deepening our understanding of the capabilities and motivations of people in later life who are not currently benefiting from digital, and what would help them to overcome key barriers to sustained uptake. Led by the Centre.
3 Re-imagining user journey for those in later life, to improve interaction with the Department for Work and Pensions and other organisations. Led by EthosVO.
The aim is to develop the network/ecosystem as a shared infrastructure that is owned and run by those who use it.
Paddy has now left the Centre, but will continue to be involved, with Tris Lumley from NPC, Robert Pye from Ethos VO, and Nigel Lewis of Age Action Alliance. They say that they will create a larger network development group.
I'm personally delighted that the project has come so far. Last year Shirley Ayres and I challenged the Centre for its lack of any mention of technology in consultation documents. This led to a meeting with Paddy and interim chief executive Greg Wilkinson, and a set of ideas about engaging with the potential of technology.
I think that Paddy has done an amazing job internally and externally in developing Joined Up Digital, with support from the current CEO Dr Anna Dixon, and the other partners.
The plans developed with NPC take everything up a notch, and could also benefit from the NPC Digital Transformation programmes.
However, as well as the big players, I hope that there is also provision in the programme for input from freelances like Drew, who developed network thinking and designed the event game, and John Popham, whose video reports provided direct reporting of how older people actually use digital technology.
In addition, Shirley Ayres is developing a new set of Click Guides that will bring together much that is already happening the field.
These and others involved in our exploration of Living Well in the Digital Age over the past four years, and a possible digital age learning network will, in my opinion, be crucial to the success or otherwise of the Joined Up Digital network - if it is to bring real benefits to older people and those close to them.
It is generally the freelances, small organisations, and (relatively few) enthusiasts in larger organisations who share their experience and ideas … not so much the senior managers who may symbolically sign up to networks.
As the SEEFA symposium revealed last year, there isn't a general culture of sharing in the field.
I think that the three strands in the JUD project plan are exciting initiatives … and certainly reflect discussions over the past four years about what's needed in the field, as well as the JUD first phase.