Digital behaviour change coach, Holly Health, partners with Age UK to promote healthy ageing, as it announces £1.4M of funding

July 1, 2022

  • £1.4M funding will support Holly Health’s work into sustainable behavioural change and healthy ageing
  • 80% of adults 65+ have at least one chronic condition and 68% have two or more, which could be managed or prevented with behaviour change
  • Chronic conditions account for £7 in every £10 of health and social care expenditure in the NHS
  • The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funded project will support 6000 older adults via Holly Health’s digital health coach, helping older people manage and improve their health and wellbeing

Holly Health, the first evidence-based digital health coach for sustainable behaviour change, today announces £1.4M in funding. Investment funding has been boosted by a £540K award from UKRI for the Healthy Ageing Challenge, driving a new collaboration with Age UK Lewisham and Southwark (AUKLS) to help improve the physical and mental health of 50-70+ year olds, by slowing the onset of chronic conditions with digital health tools.

The total £1.4M raised - backed by investors including Kima Ventures, Dr Fiona Pathiraja, founder of Crista Galli Ventures, Paul Forster, Ed Cooke and Silicon Valley based Very Serious Ventures - will allow Holly Health to tailor their digital health coach for healthy ageing support, in co-design with members of the public, as well as supporting expansion of the existing service, which is currently being rolled out through UK primary care practices.

Launched in August 2021 by ex-Deliveroo, Facebook, Microsoft and Aldi Operations lead, Grace Gimson, and Neuroscientist and Software Engineer Dr. Claire Wu, Holly Health was created to support permanent lifestyle change across populations, including minimising and preventing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stress.

A digital solution for healthy ageing

Over 80% of adults over 65 have a chronic condition, which impacts quality of life, increases risk of other diseases, and costs healthcare services billions. Behavioural changes like increasing regular physical activity, are proven to help people manage or prevent chronic conditions; however older adults often find lifestyle changes difficult to initiate and maintain, particularly without access to ongoing personalised motivation and support. The digital health coach will be optimised to support behaviour change among older adults at home and in the community, improving access to personalised support and long term health outcomes.

During the 18 month project, 6000 older adults will see the digital health coach integrated across Age UK Lewisham and Southwark’s network of groups, classes, events and care services. If successful, the project has the potential to scale to the Age UK national network of >1 million older adults, and be more widely adopted by public and private healthcare providers.

Working alongside existing NHS and local authority care pathways, the project seeks to:

  • Increase physical activity and improve mental health in 50-70+ year-olds
  • Improve cardiovascular health and musculoskeletal issues
  • Reduce and slow onset of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes
  • Minimise loneliness while raising confidence and self-motivation

Holly Health’s CEO and Co-founder Grace Gimson comments: “We’re over the moon to partner with Age UK Lewisham and Southwark. We know our digital health coach helps people make lasting changes to their health and wellbeing, but this project will give us the insights to develop a version of the app that best meets the needs of older adults. I know we’ll be able to show just how important digital health tools are in supporting community health. By catalysing adoption of these technologies to population level, we’re able to help more people feel better as they age.”

Ross Diamond, CEO of AUKLS comments: “Age UK Lewisham and Southwark exists to improve the lives of older people, working towards a future in which all people are valued, safe, and empowered to make choices about their lives.

We firmly believe that working with Holly Health to develop a coaching app for health behaviour changes tailored for use by older people will help us meet this aim - notably the promotion of health and wellbeing - through helping to provide tools that can enable more older people to positively manage their own health and wellbeing. We see Holly Health as being able to support a lasting change in healthy behaviours and encourage better community engagement, and look forward to the results of the planned trials.”

Paul Forster, early angel investor in the company said: "Holly Health’s digital health coach for behaviour change has huge potential to deliver mental and physical health support at scale, across all demographics and communities. I am delighted to be supporting them in their journey, and look forward to seeing the impact."

To find out more about Holly Health, please visit: https://hollyhealth.io/

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