Our client Lokaal+ is a community centre, located in EIndhoven, where care and social work students learn to work with elderly. From Monday to Friday, elderly people in the neighbourhood can sign up for for different activities (e.g. morning exercise, cooking, creative activities, computer lessons and walking) for a small fee. Lokaal+ operates both as a meeting point for elderly and as a learning environment for the internship students. The students also visit more isolated elderly at their homes. Lokaal+ will focus more and more on this type of extramural care in the near future. There for they need more elderly that want help and/or elderly that express their needs. In this project we focused on making it easier for elderly to express their needs. Right now elderly have to call Lokaal+ and speak out their needs. From different interviews and chats we discovered that pronouncing their needs is a threshold most elderly don’t dare to cross.
We, the investors and a lot of people we talked to, believe that Lokaal+ is an unique community centre that benefits from an aging population and the fact that people continue to live longer at home. But to really make this a success all people within this community should trust each other and dare to express their feelings. The final design is an interactive tree that lowers the threshold because elderly can express their needs in a non-verbal way. The concept also tries to convince the elderly that asking for help isn’t something to be ashamed of, but ,because of the benefits for all, something to be proud of. We would like to thank Johanna Kint and Yuan Lu for their great advices and support on our project. And we would also like to thank Geert van den Boogaart who helped us a lot with the technological part of our concept.
Stakeholder map We also made a stakeholder map to see all relations between the different stakeholders. This was all based on the past two weeks of intensive research. Observing at Lokaal+, making conversations with a lot of interesting people like for example Richard van Schaijk (supervisor at vonderhof), doing interviews at elderly homes, analyzing the community and searching for already existing projects both in and outside Eindhoven. Because it was impossible to focus on every stakeholder we decided to choose a certain area or relation that we were interested in. Because Lokaal+ was mainly built for the students personal development, we saw a lot of potential here.
Summa students Our next step was to learn more about the students. We tried to keep the interviews as informal as we could because then they felt most at ease, which resulted in better information for us. We were often really surprised of what the summa care students told us. They felt that they could do and there for learn more than they were actually doing right now. The students ask for more learning opportunities and with Lokaal+’s intention to expand the amount of service points in the back of our mind we had found something to work on.
Viedome On the 11th of march we went Lokaal+ to try out the Viedome system provided by Mextal. The Viedome system is a computer made for elderly that want to continue living at home but do need help from caretakers or other people. With the Viedome system they can for example call the caretakers, pharmacists, doctors and relatives. We were really interested in how the system worked because neither the elderly nor Lokaal+ used the system. Saskia van Erven-Reijmer ( coordinator of Lokaal+ and our contact person ) told us that she also didn’t know how to use the system. Mextal organized a training for the students and elderly to get used to the Viedome system, but the speed of training was way too high and the system therefore didn’t get used after the training either. We spend about two hours trying to figure out how to use the system. We really saw some potential in the system but we could also understand why they never used it.
Service points We first looked at the current situation again. Why are there not yet enough service points? What do students do on an average school day? Answering these questions were crucial for the development of our concept. We quickly discovered that there were not enough service points because either elderly in the neighbourhood were not aware of Lokaal+ or the elderly didn’t want the help Lokaal+ could provide because they simply didn’t need it or felt too proud to admit that they needed help. We felt Lokaal+ and its already existing clients were capable enough of furthering spreading Lokaal+’s existence. Therefore we decided to focus on the elderly that didn’t dare to admit that they needed help.
One of the most important parts of every design process is the development of a prototype. We see this prototype as an essential method to visualise our concept and convey our message. Our prototype is not designed to be the exact realisation of our concept and it only contains all the relevant functions in order to communicate our concept. We did not include the communication system with Lokaal+, but we specified this thoroughly in the ‘Technology’ chapter. Furthermore, the materials and techniques we used to design our prototype will not be the same as we would use when the concept would be industrially produced. Most parts would be injection moulded, instead of rapid prototyped (3D printing and milling) and the Arduino parts would be replaced by circuit boards and electronic components.
Main idea Our aim for the final concept of this project was to design a product that looks non-technical and fits within the elderly’s homes. While working towards a final concept, we created lots of complicated and technical concepts, but none of them really fitted our aims. After a number of iterations, we came to the idea of a small tree, based on a bonsai tree. The main idea behind our concept is that the tree enlivens the elderly’s living room and subtly invites the elderly to ask for help. Asking for help may feel like a burden for the elderly. Our concept offers them a non-verbal way to communicate their needs and in this way makes asking for help easier. The main idea behind our concept is that the tree enlivens the elderly’s living room and subtly invites the elderly to ask for help. Asking for help may feel like a burden for the elderly. Our concept offers them a non-verbal way to communicate their needs and in this way makes asking for help easier.
Interaction At the moment that the user asks for help by gently touching a leaf, the leaves will turn light green, corresponding to the spring season. The tree in fact awakens from the dull winter season. After selecting one of the five types of help, the user can select a desired timeslot on which he or she needs assistance by turning the dial on the pot. The user then confirms the request by touching the same leaf again. The leaves will now turn a brighter green, corresponding to the tree’s summer season. The user now knows that the request for help is successful. When the help is due to arrive soon, the tree ultimately turns orange, corresponding to autumn. The user now knows that he or she will be helped very soon. We decided not to give an exact numerical indication of the waiting time, as this will make the elderly worried because, for example, help may arrive a few minutes late.