Ageing Well National Science Challenge is pleased to announce the awarding of  “Emergent Opportunities” grants. The Emergent Opportunities grants were established to provide funding for unexpected research ideas that have been identified from Ageing Well projects in Phase One. While the projects must develop ideas, methodologies, tools or technologies that emerged from Phase One projects, the proposed projects must also align with the Ageing Well Phase Two Focus Areas: Health and Well-being in Ageing and Ageing and Māori.

Each project award is for up to $200,000, for a period of 12 months. Four projects have been funded under the Health and Well-being in Ageing focus area and one under the Ageing and Māori focus area. 


Associate Professor Michal Boyd, University of Auckland – School of Nursing
Developing an early warning system to recognise resident deterioration in residential aged care.

This work extends on the “Neurodegeneration and Individualised Interventions” project which used a co-design approach to develop the Frailty Care Guides. These guides were successfully completed and have recently been disseminated nationally. The current project seeks to complement the Frailty Care Guides by developing an evidence-based and user-friendly, Early Warning System (EWS) for early identification of residential deterioration in residential aged care (RAC). Currently, no systematic EWS exists for RAC in New Zealand.

Dr Ofa Dewes, University of Auckland – School of Nursing
Building connections as we age: From younger carers to societies.

This intergenerational family caring phenomenon was identified as a significant area for future research in Dr Dewe’s Phase One project, “Tāpinga ‘a Maama: Pacific Life and Death in Advanced Age.” The current project aims to provide new evidence-based information to address the needs of younger carers caring for older adults to support the development of more effective and efficient provisions of responsive healthcare and social support services. This should produce better health, education and employment outcomes.

Professor Merryn Gott & Dr Lisa Williams, University of Auckland – School of Nursing
Promoting social connection through challenging public attitudes: a participatory project with older people.
The Phase One project, “Social Isolation and Loneliness” explored older people’s understanding and experience of loneliness, social isolation and social connection within the culturally diverse context of New Zealand. This resulted in a 5 minute animation titled Elder Birdsong  incorporating the research core themes. The current project aims to co-create with older people and middle school students a film about later life loneliness and social connectedness, focusing on the potential value of inter-generational social connection.

Dr Hamish Jamieson, University of Otago
Reducing social isolation with big data.
“Risk Factors in Reduced Social Engagement” (Phase One project) found many challenging social factors and loneliness in older people, and early entry into aged residential care facilities. The current project will apply more sophisticated research techniques to look for longitudinal patterns and possible causal relationships leading to the risk factors identified in the Phase One project. Findings from this project will have the potential to be used to modify the care plans of the 120,000 older New Zealanders who have an assessment using the interRAI.


Dr Catherine Love & Mr Charles Waldegrave, Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit
He Huarahi Whakapakari Kaumātuatanga: A Kaumātua future proofing tool.

From the Phase One “Loneliness and Isolation” project it was found that while loneliness as measured on a standard international scale, captures universal aspects of loneliness, it does not capture Māori specific aspects. As a consequence, service planning and policy setting may be working from imprecise evidence. The current project will develop an innovative “Kaumātua Future Proofing Tool” using the quantitative evidence from the Phase One research and some co-created qualitative research. This tool will provide an evidence-based checklist for people, organisations and Ministers designing services for a growing ageing Māori population.