The client of this project was Lokaal+: a community centre for elderly, run by students of the Summa Zorg college. Elderly from the neigborhood are going there to take part in activities like painting, bingo, cooking or just drinking coffee. The task of the students is to organize and lead these activities. The level 4 students (education for Social worker) mainly organized the activities, and the level 1 and 2 students focused on taking care of the elderly and helping them with everything they needed Apart from the activities within the walls of Lokaal+, the students are also active in the neighborhood. There are 17 weekly homecare clients and the level 4 students go there to do some shopping for groceries for them or to help them with household activities.
Lokaal+ is trying to become a Wijkleerbedrijf. To achieve this status, they have to become able to give more students an internship position and also show themselves more in the neighborhood. In the process to become a Wijkleerbedrijf our concepts could become useful for Lokaal+.
In the beginning of the design process, we explored the context of Lokaal+ and identified the most important problems there. To do so, we used video observation: we went out to the neighborhood with our camera’s and talked to the important persons at Lokaal+ and other places. When we were back at TU/e again, we analysed the footage and drew our conclusions.
Saskia van Erven-Reijmer gave us an introduction to the daily business at Lokaal+. After we spoke to her, we joined an activity ourselves. During this bingo afternoon, we gained a lot of insight in the social group dynamics of elderly. We heard from the elderly as well as from Saskia that there was a certain group of socially isolated elderly that didn’t participate in any of the activities in the neighborhood. There isolated elderly were lonely and certainly had a need for contact with other people, but couldn’t pass the threshold to direct contact for some reason.
During the bingo afternoon, we spoke to an old man who organized a flea market every first friday of the month, all by himself. It was a market on which other elderly sold their handmade stuff: a perfect example of stimulating active participation in the neighborhood. We went there and gained some interesting insights: Every elderly was very eager to talk about his or her own creations for the market. Social contact was important, but the feeling of being useful for others was a factor to participate too.
At Vitalis Vonderhof, they had a completely different vision on how to provide care to elderly. While at Lokaal+, the students and coordinators were practising the standard strategy of making life as easy as possible for the elderly, Richard van Schaijk had the inverse approach. To prevent the clients at Vitalis Vonderhof to become hospitalized, he let them do as much as possible themselves. As a consequence, the actions that elderly could not conduct became more clear, but also all things they still could do themselves got a lot of attention. The practice at Vitalis Vonderhof proved that this provocative approach is a big succes, and that it gives the elderly a feeling of self-efficacy (the feeling that you can achieve something).
After the phase of exploratory research, I went into idea generation. Together with Jacky and Gijs, I did a brainstorm on the three of our focus area’s. My starting point was Let students use the strengths of elderly. If this could be achieved, it would be a win-win situation, because the elderly would not anymore feel like a burden to others, but also the students would get a more interesting internship position. In the end I selected 3 idea’s from this brainstorm to work out further, These were the ones that best fitted the initial goal:
Teeth A payment system within Lokaal+. Elderly and students can exchange knowledge, care and activities by paying with symbolic teeth they get when they join Lokaal+. It raises the community feeling at Lokaal+, and also makes it easier to ask for help, because you know you’re doing something back.
Corporate style of Lokaal+ by elderly When thinking of the strengths of elderly that could be used by others, I immediately thought of handwriting. Because they are from the era before the popularity of the computer, they all have a much more trained and fine-tuned handwriting than the younger generation. If the branding of Lokaal+ could be done by the students, making use of the writing contributions of the elderly, they would feel as if they helped building up the whole of Lokaal+.
Sterke Verhalen TV A TV-station within Lokaal+. Student make video reports of the hobbies of elderly and about independent activities they execute. This way elderly are becoming aware of their own strengths, and students are getting a more interesting internship task while creating this awareness. I used the technique of co-reflection with both elderly and students to see what concept would be most realistic to implement and test, and after we discussed my storyboards for different concepts, I chose Sterke Verhalen TV to work out for the theme days as an example of my direction.
Sterke Verhalen: A TV-channel within Lokaal+. Using an easy editing-free camera, students make short videos of independent activities of elderly. Each week a broadcast of Sterke Verhalen is being watched via the VieDome system with all visitors of Lokaal+ In six steps, the self-confidence of elderly will be raised, their repect to each other will get a boost, and the students will receive a more challenging learning experience.
At the start of the project, we agreed at taking on a strategy of regular co-reflection with th target group. This way, we could check in between if our assumptions and research findings corresponded to reality. It prevented us from encountering big surprises in the implementation. After our big brainstorm session with Jacky, Gijs and myself, I selected three ideas to work out with storyboards and to co-reflect upon with Lokaal+-coordinator Iris and the students.
Students We really got to know the students at Lokaal+ personally while doing this project, and this was also necessary to get trustworthy answers to personal questions about what they learned at school and what they had expected to learn. They told us that they thought the internship they were doing was not really intensive and that they were in search of a bigger challenge than just being the nanny of the elderly. When I discussed my concepts wth them during the co-re- flection sessions, they thought that they could work out, but they were unsure about where to start with the implementation.
Coordinator While co-reflecting with Iris Cornelius I told a sensitizing story about how isolated elderly didn’t dare to come to the activities because they felt that they were not wanted by the other elderly. She recognized the profile of this kind of elderly and she even knew some examples with which there was contact via the extramural care of Lokaal+. After I told the visionary stories of the concepts Sterke Verhalen and Teeth, she was most enthousiastic about Sterke Verhalen. Iris thought that the way I assumed and also argumented the reasoning and reactions of the elderly was very much corresponding to reality. Combined with the positive reactions at the theme days, this assuring convinced me to continue working on this concept, and trying to implement it and get it to work.
After implementing the concept as far as I could in the time of this semester, it’s time to make up the balance of which of my expectations have become reality and what went different than expected. Though our project’s objectives are mostly achieved, I have the idea that Lokaal+ was not fully satisfied with the results from the project. Hilde Meijs, the director was very enthou- siastic, but Saskia and Iris would have wanted to see some more practical outcomes already, I have the idea. They were interested in solutions that made their work easier, and not ones that caused a lot of work on top of their usual tasks before being effective.
During the project, I kept in contact with techology company Mextal, they were very much interested in the tests I was going to do, and they wanted to help me if needed by creating a pool of VieDome users in the neighborhood of Lokaal+, to see if the extramural clients of Lokaal+ could benefit from the project too.