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Age Exchange

Case study: Building sustainability at Age Exchange

Age Exchange was formed in 1983 as a specialist reminiscence charity, and over the years has developed new ways of working to reduce loneliness and isolation. For the past 15 years, due to a growing older population, the charity has expanded its work with people who have found themselves as carers for older relatives and with people with a dementia diagnosis.

Uniquely as result of collaboration with Royal Holloway University and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity they have a detailed body of robust academic research underpinning the measurable impact of their work.  The Charity has trained social care and health staff as well as developed a pool of artists who can use their techniques.

The scale of demand for this work is growing exponentially, and as a result there is also a need for significant increases in unrestricted income to expand and improve their approach.

=mc’s brief

Our brief was threefold:

  • to see if there was a potential market – especially in the Health Service or the private care sector – to monetise the intellectual property that Age Exchange had.
  • If so, to develop a business model that would ensure the work not only met direct costs but helped to provide sustainable income for the wider body of Age Exchange work locally.
  • and finally, to create a marketing strategy for whatever offerings were identified, that could be implemented simply.

What we did

=mc consultants undertook a market study to explore the potential for the offering – looking at competitors, level of demand, possible marketing channels, and price points. We also used the =mc version of the social business canvas to work out the overall economics of the idea.

Sadly, the study showed conclusively that while there was significant demand for the offering there wasn’t an economically viable way to deliver it – especially in view of the financial restraints on the National Health Service and private sector care providers. Still, the good news is Age Exchange was able to avoid investing significantly in an activity that would not have had the hoped-for payoff.

While disappointing, this information allowed Age Exchange to look for other imaginative solutions. Determined to deliver against the need, =mc then expanded the brief to look across at developing a legacy programme – building on the existing demographic of users. Working with senior age exchange volunteers and staff a number of different propositions were created and the legacy programme developed.


The result is that the new approach has identified a practical way to develop and roll out the legacy programme.  In time, this should allow Age Exchange to deliver subsidised services to a range of service users – at home, in the centre, and in care settings.

Rebecca Packwood, CEO says:

“Since I joined as chief executive I’ve been looking for ways to ensure that our work is more financially sustainable and to continue to expand the number of people who benefit from our interventions.  Working with =mc has enabled us to have a challenging but flexible partner who consistently delivered insightful research and approaches. We’re looking forward to building a legacy programme.”

If you’re keen to discuss ideas on how your organisation can develop a sustainable future, let’s talk – call us on 020 7978 1516 or email Bernard Ross, Director on

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