Five residential care and retirement living providers have joined forces with QUT to foster active ageing, community connectedness and business innovation.

Senior Living Innovation is a research collaboration by the university’s Institute for Future Environments in partnership with Aveo, BallyCara, IRT, Stockland and RSL Care + RDNS to transform senior communities through innovative models, services and infrastructure.

The research will focus on exploring the implications of and drivers for change, developing solutions that optimise lifestyles for future seniors, and translating them into innovative and sustainable housing and service options.

While the project was officially launched this week, the team began collecting data in February after a six-month planning phase.

Initial research included a social media mapping exercise which used software designed to dive deep into public conversations on social media around ageing and senior living.

In March this year, 90 participants aged 50-92 from across Australia took part in an intensive four-day online forum.

Initial results showed the priorities across all age groups were family and social relationships, and intergenerational and community connections.

There was a strong attachment to home and community, and participants talked about technology including computers, mobile phones and internet.

A third information-gathering exercise used a community engagement booth at Brisbane’s Gasworks which invited people to provide input on what was important to them in an interactive environment.

Key themes were love, life, happiness, work, family and connection.

“People across age groups were all talking about the same things,” Professor Buys said.

“Senior Living Innovation is a new kind of research initiative and one of the first where the partners work together, develop projects together and analyse together,” project lead Professor Laurie Buys said.

RSL Care + RDNS General Manager Property Development and Asset Management James Mantis said the aim is to challenge truths and drive innovation and leadership.

“We wanted to understand the conversations that are happening among senior Australians and their influencers when they are looking to make future life choices,” he said.

“The ability to look at innovative and alternative solutions through industry-led disruption is important to us, and the ability to work with QUT across a multi-disciplinary, multi-faculty approach is exciting.”

Future activities for the project will include a design challenge informed by the data gathered, which will seek to attract innovative and disruptive opportunities that can be translated into industry-leading products and services for older people.

IRT Communities CEO, Stig Andersen said the organisation’s founding mission of to provide older Australians with better choices in housing and care is still its “guiding star.”

“Older Australians still want a range of choices when downsizing their home and upsizing their lifestyle, and IRT is still committed to enabling this,” Mr Andersen said.

“Consumer demand for the current retirement village model remains strong, but there’s an opportunity for providers like IRT to innovate our product offering to benefit even more older Australians,” he said.

“We’re excited to partner with QUT and older Australians themselves to better understand their needs and expectations and design creative solutions.”

“Think robotics, smart houses, nano and wearable technology, intentional and intergeneration communities… When you combine one of Australia’s leading technology universities with industry partners and forward-thinking consumers, the possibilities are endless.”

For more information go to www.research.qut.edu.au/seniorliving