Work-based Learning Toolkit and Partnership Plans

NetwellCASALA, Ireland

What is NetwellCASALA?

NetwellCASALA is a joint venture between Dundalk Institute of Technology, the Health Service Executive of Ireland and Louth County Council. NetwellCASALA host multidisciplinary research and development activities that are focused on developing more integrated community-oriented services, more sustainable home and neighbourhood design, and more age-friendly technologies.  They were instrumental in the formation of Louth Age Friendly County that in turn lead to the inception of Age Friendly Ireland.  Their ethos is about assisting people and communities to live and age smarter and safely.

What is NetwellCASALA offering?

Working closely with business partners, members of the community, health services, local and national government, other academic establishments and ageing associated agencies, NetwellCASALA are actively translating ideas into practical solutions that improve the lives of older people and those who care for them, whilst also creating new business opportunities and informing public policies.  They support ideas and innovation through R&D and their Living Lab facility in DkIT and through strong alliances across support agencies and community service providers.  They use access to Big Data to inform the next step and market decisions,

Who is the target market?

This is diverse.  The end user is someone who benefits from the technologies and innovations to enjoy a better and safer life in their own community or in assisted learning surroundings.  Their other target market includes businesses, educational providers, support and care agencies, citizens and research partners to work together to provide a more empowering and consultative approach to help the person to live more successfully and safely.

Evolving the Service at NetwellCASALA

Working on the successes of Age Friendly Ireland and the knowledge and skills that fosters and strengthened, NetwellCASALA wanted to bring this experience into the community.

Initiatives include:

The Netwell Centre with the HSE developed the role of Cúltaca for older persons. Cúltaca is an Irish word meaning a strong support or backup. They act as a liaison between the statutory and non-statutory services and the older person, and in doing so aim to breakdown some of the barriers that are regularly encountered. It empowers older people to make choices about services and supports that they need by developing a personal plan. It assists people in accessing a wide range of voluntary, social and health services.

The Cultáca role uses pedagogies such as Incidental Learning, Productive Failure, Crossover Learning & Universal Design and Empathy to listen, adapt and offer a working solution that lends itself to supporting independent or assisted living.  This role is an Age Friendly Toolkit Best Practice model.

An example of Immersive learning is The Great Northern Haven is another pioneering partnership between the Louth Local Authorities, local Health Service Executive, industry partners, research & development and the older residents. A demonstration housing project consisting of 16 purpose-built smart homes, each equipped with a combination of sensor and interactive technology to support AAL for older people.  Fifteen of the apartments are occupied by older adults, while one is reserved as a unit for demonstration and testing purposes.

Their activities involve an array of disciplines including the social and behavioural sciences, health and medical sciences, computer science, engineering, design, marketing and business administration. NetwellCASALA work across the three inter-related and mutually reinforcing pillars of communities, environment and technologies. They are in a unique position of being able to provide partners with a complete concept-to-trial, product and service development environment through the NetwellCASALA Living Lab.

The Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) is a high-tech immersive virtual reality system which the team at NetwellCASALA use to develop and test new technologies.

Both The Cave & The Living Lab are pioneering new ways of looking at old issues, breaking big topics down by adopting Computational Thinking:

  • breaking large problems down into smaller ones (decomposition)
  • recognizing how these relate to problems that have been solved in the past (pattern recognition)
  • setting aside unimportant details (abstraction)
  • identifying and developing the steps that will be necessary to reach a solution (algorithms) and refining these steps (debugging)


Making Ageing “interesting” – NetwellCASALA must constantly educate new partners in the size and value of the Silver Economy.  Working with businesses and educational providers to see this as a real viable sector of the economy where empowerment, choice and independence is more successful.  With access to Big Data and current research they can educate stakeholders to “See people as people and not as ages”

Benefits & Opportunities

NetwellCASALA is Best Practice innovation for the Age Economy, with access to research, technology and key stakeholders, they are poised to pioneer in this growing market well into the future.



This post is also available in: Spanish Polish

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.