A brief update of the Antwerp scenario


At the outset of the DAA project, the first draft of the design brief of Care Company Antwerp was titled Prevention and Detection of Socially Isolated Senior Citizens. But how has the subsequent design process evolved? What is the situation now? A brief update.

A couple of months ago, service designers Namahn and Yellow Window, Care Company Antwerp, its DAA partner Design Flanders, key stakeholders, and end users of the local service centres, have all participated in a co-design workshop with the aim of developing a toolkit that could be used during the human-centred design research.

With a so-called “cultural probe”, information was gathered from 7 carefully chosen seniors. Cultural probes are meant to gather qualitative data about people’s lives, their values and thoughts. In this case, the probes consisted of small ‘kits’ that included a diary which allowed seniors to record their thoughts, feelings and perceptions. In keeping the diary, the seniors were kindly assisted by care providers.

Key questions in the diary study included:

  • Is the supposed lack of social contact real?
  • Which are the contributing factors to loneliness?
  • Which values and drives are important?

The user insights that emerged from the cultural probe have now led to a redefining of the initial design brief. The main issue has been rephrased as “How can we help seniors find a purpose in life again through meaningful social contact?” This in turn has led to the designers proposing the concepts of “self-organisation” and “self-governance” as possible answers to the design challenge.

The aim is to make the involvement of the elderly in their local service centre more active, engaging and personally rewarding. By expanding their role in the functioning and day-to-day operations of the service centres, the seniors are encouraged to develop healthy and meaningful relationships with others, explore new interests, learn new skills, and increase their sense of purposefulness.

This concept has been elaborated in a co-thinking workshop with Care Company’s management team on 1 March, in a co-design workshop with professionals and end-users on 25 March, and in a co-creation workshop with the DAA partners during their three-day visit to Antwerp on 5, 6 and 7 of June 2013.