Owen McNeir is an entrepreneur and founder of the social impact startup Remarkable Lives, a new social network designed for older people. Owen will be joining AMBITIOUS to co-host an event for Social Media Week, ‘Social media networks – the grey area’.

 The session will include contributions from Rob Fountain, CEO of Age UK Gloucestershire, Elia Takkos, Director of Home Instead and Sam Alford, award manager at the UnLtd Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs.

We caught up with Owen ahead of the event on March 2nd to find out more.

What can people expect from the event ‘Social media networks – the grey area’ for Bristol Social Media Week?

“A lively, open-minded discussion about what it means to be part of an ageing population, what we can do to improve the quality of later life and care for all of us, and the role technology can play to empower society through better connectivity.”

Who should come along to the event and why would they find it useful?

“This event is relevant to everyone because we’re only getting older and we’re all part of this ageing population. We all have an interest in our health and wellbeing in later life. It’s particularly relevant if you’re engaged in the care and support of older people and you think a better understanding of the whole person will help deliver better care.”

You have developed a social network designed especially for older people. Why is there a gap for this kind of product?

“Because there isn’t a social network designed uniquely for later life. There are lots for the status updates of younger life and for sharing pictures of cute animals. There are lots that have become news feeds and opinion factories. I felt it was time to harness the connectivity of social networking to do something good and benefit older people.

But there’s another gap we have identified, which is that we all have medical records but no equivalent record of our life – what makes us who we are. So, the familiarity and accessibility of social media could also be used to enable and empower caregivers.”

Why not use one of the many social networks that already exist? What will older people benefit from using Remarkable Lives?

“Remarkable Lives is different because it has a dual purpose. For the public it’s essentially a memory-sharing app, a bit like Instagram, but which chronicles our life story from the beginning.

For health and care providers it’s an essential tool to enhance care while saving time and money. So, Remarkable Lives is like a care and wellbeing passport – dedicated to our journey through later life where other social platforms aren’t. Older people benefit in many ways: through the positive health-effects of reminiscence and through the connected support network Remarkable Lives creates. And because wherever we go now, our story can go with us like our medical history: the next person who reads it will know much more about us – who we really are.”

Technology innovators and investors are keen to develop products and services for the older market. What considerations do you think need to be made when developing ideas for this demographic?

“It’s easy to make assumptions about what the older demographic needs, especially when it comes to tech. What’s more, we’re conditioned it seems to label anyone over 60 or 65 as ‘older people’ and assume they all bear the same characteristics. Turn it on its head – do we look at 5 year-olds, 15 year-olds and 25 year-olds in the same way?

We’ve been developing Remarkable Lives since 2015, working closely with older people and their families, as well as carers, nurses, therapists, doctors, and organisations who support older people. My advice is get out there and immerse yourself in the world of older people, and then co-design your products and services collaboratively.”

Social media networks – the grey area takes place on March 2 at the Engine Shed, Bristol.

This event is by invitation, so  if you have a professional interest in this subject and would like to attend please email mel@ambitiouspr.co.uk.

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