Developing a Responsive InTeractive Advocate ('RITA')

Lead Participant: UNIVERSITY OF KENT


The UK has an aging population; there are approximately 8 million people over the age of 75 in the UK, and this number is set to increase by approximately 4 million by 2031. The Secretary of State for Health in England (Jeremy Hunt) outlined the future problem for elderly care. He noted that not only will the number of people aged 85 and over have doubled between 2010 and 2030, but there will be over 1 million people with dementia by 2020. (Speech at the Kings Fund 12.09.2013). He was also at pains to point out that the current system of care is "reactive and disjointed", and it is rare that our "older vunerable citizens are looked after with a joined-up care plan that pre-empts problems before they arise". In an age where public finances are stretched, the challenge exists to develop a means of supporting our aging population to live freely, and independently with dignity and purpose. Addressing this challenge requires solutions centred on each individual, and delivery of an empathic response, empowering the ageing population, focused on their expressed needs, thus assisting them to manage their own lives effectively

The radical idea outlined in this proposal is designed to instigate a new model for care of the elderly in the UK; supporting each person to live in the way they choose. This solution is scalable to individual needs and preferences, and seeks to empower individuals to have control of their own lives and care. Under this project we will develop and provide a digital champion, designed to enable and prolong an individual's ability to live as independently as possible, in their own homes if desired. This champion will take the form of a humanised avatar, who responds empathetically to an individuals needs and their emotional state. It will draw on a personalised repository, populated with a wealth of information relating to the preferences, memories and the well-being of the user, capturing the essence of the individual. Critically this champion will ultimately serve as a knowledgeable advocate on behalf of the user, interacting with providers of services, family and friends. This system is designed to ensure that joined-up care plans reside with each individual, and that the system is able to communicate with individuals, and when appropriate, to family, friends and professional support services. This is designed to anticipate problems before they become serious. A central tenet of this system will be the protection of the dignity of the user and the individuals data enabling individuals to live as they choose, and to be independent for as long as they are able. The project addresses current policy debates on older people, developments in health, social care, telehealth, debates surrounding an empathetic and responsive workforce and the financial future of the NHS. This Responsive InTeractive Advocate (RITA) is person centred and has the potential to improve both the physical and mental health of the user. RITA will provide cost effective support to vunerable individuals, enabling a healthy, productive, happy and revolutionary old age for all.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

UNIVERSITY OF KENT £498,040 £ 498,040




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