So in the last blog, we excavated the minds and feelings of 104 older people. As part of this research, we wanted to test two concepts, just to see what the reaction would be. The first concept was home sharing, a young health professional living with an older person, and exchange for a heavily reduced rent, the younger professional would share 10 hours a week socialising, going for walks, having a meal, a cup of tea together. On paper, this seemed like a baby unicorn, with all the right ingredients; alleviating loneliness, reducing the fear of living alone, and solving some of the housing problems of living in an expensive city, and heavily subsidising the rent. We also interviewed 82 offspring of the older folks, and they loved it and wanted to know where they would sign on the dotted line. A CEO of a large London hospital was equally ebullient. However, and you knew there was a however coming, less than 15% of the older folk were interested and 10% were already doing home share. Words to the effect of ‘over my dead body’ and possibly even more robust language. So we clearly raised some antibodies with the home share concept.
The second was to explore whether the idea that people could post messages, photos, videos and video chat, through their TV. Sounds a little crazy at first blush. But it’s super important to remember, there are 11.8 million people over 65 in the UK and 35% have never been online and 29.5% have tried and fallen off the web in the last 3 months. You read right. In my humble estimations, that’s a mighty large number of people.- 7.6m rounded up to be precise.
On the other side, through a companion app, the friend or family could also send and receive posts/video chat. This is using a device to internet-enable any TV, with it’s own interface, where older people can connect with a very simple remote, voice recognition and a camera, and the family or friend can connect with any digital rectangle, through our app. Some might call it Instgram for Instagran. Admittedly there’s a joke deeply hidden in that.
Through our research, we found the effect of loneliness and the sheer scale of it to be devastating, tragic and growing. In many ways, loneliness is one of the last unspoken taboos. In our research this came up, time and time again, and it was relatively subtle. One man said ‘I hate the weekends’. I delved a little deeper to understand why. ‘Because the community centres are all closed and I may not speak to anyone for nearly 3 days’. There is lot’s of data to back this datapoint of one. 1m people in this country have no human contact in 30 days, and 200,000 older people say they haven’t had a conversation with friends or family for a month. Over half of the older people were interested in this product and about 80% of their children were equally interested and wanted to know when they could get one.
Let me put it to you another way. If I was to ask how many emails do you receive a day? How many Whatsapp, texts and social media connections do you have in a day? Many digitally connected people would say ‘far too many’. I’m guessing meaningful ones must be at the very least 20-50. Now, imagine the other side of the this scenario. You live in a place where there is no internet connection, and the main forms of communication are from a tv and radio that are broadcast at you and the telephone may ring. For many people, this may only ring once or twice a week. The rest is a long, long silence.
Would you entertain this notion with me? Put down whatever you are doing, turn off your screen and for three minutes, do nothing. And I mean nothing.
Go on try it. I’m not asking you to meditate. C’mon you can do this. Now imagine multiplying this experience by about 360x.
At Hello Daisy, we want to create more happiness through the joy of connection, and reducing loneliness, by internet enabling through any TV. We hope you also want to come on this journey with us.