Finalist category: Ageing Society Award
Ageing Society Award, Finalist, 2019
Good Boost is a social enterprise made up of a team of engineers, researchers and healthcare professionals. Beginning four years ago in Oxford swimming pools, their mission is to tackle the size of the musculoskeletal (MSK) challenge in the UK, which principally affects people over 60.
MSK health problems include arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, inflammatory conditions, falls and falls fractures. The overwhelming weight of published research demonstrates that exercise is highly effective in treating musculoskeletal disorders, and managing long-term health conditions. The major barriers to individually tailored exercise that’s fun and social are pain, practical access and cost. Good Boost was founded to overcome this. People who live with these conditions often find land exercise challenging and uncomfortable, so the team started delivering classes in local pools, with personalised programmes on laminated cards for every participant. As they grew, the logistics became more challenging, so they developed the technology to deliver Good Boost at scale, using waterproof tablet computers and artificial intelligence.
This technology enables a physiotherapy-style service to be delivered for the same cost as a swim in local pools, with no waiting times. Using 20 years of research and collective expert input from the team, they have distilled therapeutic aquatic exercise decision-making into an artificial intelligence engine. Data enables them to deliver progressive exercise programmes that work to the specific ability and need of individuals, not the generic ability of the group. As a result, they can work with people who have not been active for a few months or for decades. Good Boost is reducing the need for medication, avoiding surgeries, reducing pain and giving older adults back their independence.
There are 17 million people in the UK with an MSK condition, the majority over 60 years old. It’s the 3rd largest spend for the NHS and the 4th largest burden of disease globally. The impact of MSK conditions is devastating to the lives of older adults. Meanwhile, NHS GP and Physiotherapy services are under huge stress, with waiting times increasing and older adults not getting the medical support they need.
Good Boost already changes lives. For the same price as a swim, the service is preventing surgeries, reducing medication use, avoiding trips to the GP and outpatient departments, improving mobility, reducing pain and giving people their independence back. Not only do participants have proven, exceptional health outcomes, but they look forward to the fun and social atmosphere at each session. From an idea four years ago they have grown to 16 swimming pools across England, and are an integral part of health and wellbeing for older adults in every community they operate in. With minimal funding they have built one of the most advanced pieces of rehabilitation technology on the planet, reviewed by academic partners for its innovative technology.
The team are in the final stages of social investment to provide Good Boost with the capital to build infrastructure, achieve their growth plan and develop the next stages of technology. They are designing and testing specialist software and devices to support more musculoskeletal conditions in addition to younger adults and adolescents. The plan is to be operating in 115 UK locations by the end of 2020, supporting thousands of older adults every week with an equivalent capacity and outputs as three major physiotherapy outpatient departments.