Skip to main content

Conversation as Therapy (CaT) Pin

Researchers: Rajna Ogrin, Judy Lowthian, Georgina Johnstone.

Research partners: RMIT: Vishaal Kishore, Jesseka Chadderton.

Study population: At home support clients and Community Partnership Group members

Funding support: RMIT and Haines Family Trust.

Loneliness has significant consequences to health including disrupted sleep, elevated blood pressure and increases in the hormone related to stress, cortisol. Loneliness is associated with increased depression and heart disease; and a 27% increase in mortality for people reporting ‘extreme loneliness'.

Concept: The CaT Pin (Conversation as Therapy) is a discreet, low-cost wearable, designed to monitor loneliness. In the form of a lapel pin or brooch, the device aims to detect the presence or absence of conversation. The idea is that when conversation drops below a certain number of words per hour, or words per day, a text message can be sent to a loved one, volunteer phone service or health care worker. This would alert that person to make a phone call or drop around for a conversation, helping to ameliorate the experience of loneliness.

Proof of Concept project: This project involves the first component of proving the concept of the CaT Pin.  We will work with older people to co-design and prototype test the CaT Pin.  Based on this work, we will invite two groups of Bolton Clarke clients to wear the CaT Pin: older people experiencing loneliness and older people not experiencing loneliness.  We aim to capture the number of words and conversations from older community members; and begin to map out conversations, so that when a person experiences loneliness, he/she might benefit from some form of contact.  This information will then be used in future trials to consider how an intervention can be developed and implemented to reduce the experience of loneliness in older community members.