Research for Gloria took place on a few different fronts. We held Zoom roundtable discussions, one to one online interviews, lengthy telephone chats, and doorstep interviews. There was a vast breadth of experience, but what tied every single story together was strength, stoicism, and defiance in the face of a patronising and dismissive media narrative about older people.

Every conversation overflowed with humour, wonder and entertainment at the seemingly small things like birds and gardening, and a gratitude for the generosity and protectiveness of neighbours and strangers alike.

Throckley Community Hall kindly facilitated our doorstop interviews with the older people they were supporting, and we visited Newcastle Central Mosque and Byker Mutual Aid as part of a different arm of this project. After seeing all of these teams in action and learning about the jaw dropping speed with which they mobilised and enveloped their communities, particularly older people, it became imperative to share their story entwined with Gloria’s. You can find out more about their work here.

Gloria is an independent and active older women both before and during the Covid lockdown – despite being confined to her home, she has adapted her activity to still lead a fulfilling, engaging life. This is until she has an accident rendering her semi immobile however; the injury leaves Gloria vulnerable to isolation and ill health, exacerbated by the Covid lockdown.

Newcastle’s Response to COVID-19
Supporting older people with COVID-19

Researchers from the Newcastle NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) created the COvid Vulnerable Older People (COVOP) Action Group with colleagues from various organisations to coordinate COVID-19 activity across Newcastle to support older people.

A key output from the Action Group was to bring together initiatives within each organisation for COVID-19. The Action Group has also led to a new initiative to support care home residents during the pandemic.

Using yoga-based exercise to improve the wellbeing of older adults

VOICE is a unique organisation within NICA, comprising a large network of citizens across the UK and internationally. Members contribute immense insights to research and innovation in health. Being part of VOICE has enabled our members to feel part of a community and contribute to the future wellbeing of both themselves and others.

In 2020, NICA were funded by Innovate UK to deliver a collaborative project with remote wellbeing platform, Breathe Happy.

Breathe Happy leveraged computer vision and machine learning to create real-time insights for remote yoga teachers to train students and guide them on the correct postures. Together with Breathe Happy, we worked to design and deliver a personalised, remote wellbeing program, leveraging computer vision and cutting-edge emotional AI testing tools. The project built physical and emotional resilience and aided recovery in older adults impacted by COVID-19.

Newcastle City Lifeline

CityLife Line was set up at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to support the residents of Newcastle. If anyone was self-isolating and needed support, they could contact the Welfare and Wellbeing team direct either by an online form or via phone.

The team offer advice and support on issues that might be making self-isolation more difficult, such as: food, money, work, transport for vaccinations and more. They keep in touch with local organisations to ensure they know what is on offer.