Let’s talk: AI innovators looking for housing and care collaborators to build cohesive communities and combat isolation

If you’re intrigued about the opportunities for positive change that Artificial Intelligence could deliver, here’s an opportunity to be on board with an exciting new project funded by UKRI Healthy Ageing Challenge.

The developers of “Squiboon” have approached the Age Action Alliance to reach out to members to see if you’d like to be in on the ground floor of an “AI Community Facilitator for Housing and Care Settings” which has been co-designed by older adults. In early trials, they have already demonstrated that Squiboon reduces loneliness by building cohesive, participatory neighbourhood communities, whilst giving housing and care providers information and metrics ­which can help them improve their services.

As their co-creator Dr Sarah Campbell says: “We’re now looking to work with housing and care providers to make sure Squiboon works as well for service providers as it does for service users.

“By coming on this journey with us, you’ll gain potentially unique insights on the future of housing and care provision, get to reflect on your organisation’s challenges and opportunities, and be part of shaping a revolutionary product that could add great value to you and your service users.”

So what’s it all about?

Squiboon is the world’s first community facilitator powered by artificial intelligence. It’s a collaboration between renowned psychologist and healthy ageing researcher Dr Sarah Campbell and machine learning experts at the University of Bristol, and was co-designed with older adults at Whiteley Village, a retirement community in Surrey.

From the outside it looks like a smart TV plus a simple-to-use controller. It’s there to spark and steer structured conversations between residents; and, as with a good human facilitator, everyone gets a chance to speak and common interests are identified. Squiboon keeps things dynamic, respectful, constructive and inclusive. By doing so, it fosters cohesive, inclusive communities, ensuring everyone feels respected and heard.

Critically, it has been co-designed by and for older adults in residential retirement and care home settings; and, already, by getting people talking and connecting, Squiboon is proving to be effective in combating social isolation, loneliness and the devastating knock-on effects these have to health. From the perspective of housing and care providers, the “gripes” that come up in conversations are anonymised but patterns of complaints or concerns are flagged up which providers can act upon.

Importantly, unlike a human facilitator, it’s available day and night… and at a fraction of the cost.

And if you think this is all about machines taking over, unlike the isolation created by individual smartphone usage, Squiboon is designed to bring people together, running on any TV in a communal setting and so avoid any reservations people may have with new technology.

Getting involved

Through a beautifully simple dashboard, housing and care providers can get an instant overview of the sentiment of residents, participation and engagement levels, along with any emergent issues. By building an inclusive, empowered and participatory community, it helps providers manage communities of residents and their relatives, freeing up staff time to focus on enhancing core service provision.

Having conducted extensive co-design with older adult users, Sarah and her team are now looking to work with other housing and care providers. If you’re interested in helping to develop the project further, or simply to find out more, just get in touch via hello@squiboon.com

Illustrative image courtesy of the Centre for Ageing Better positive image library

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