8 February 2022 News

Giving elderly an essential place in society

The Netherlands is ageing rapidly. We see the demand for care increasing, while care organisations are already struggling with staff shortages. This leads to the design question that ActiZ poses in What if Lab: Connected Generations: ‘What if… society is designed so that the lives of pluriform groups of older people (in the neighbourhood and nursing homes) have a natural and substantial place in society?

Creating this essential place involves a range of facets, from the physical environment, technological support, social structures and social attitudes. This facilitates a new way of looking at the care of the elderly. It is a social issue for the whole of society. We are Social Rebels and Studio Anne Ligtenberg apply this perspective to two areas: Housing and Social Products/Services.

In this Lab, reciprocity between generations is central. During Dutch Design Week 2021 (DDW21), the designers held important conversations with visitors from different generations. These conversations provided important information and knowledge that the designers incorporated into their concepts. Read the concepts the two studios presented to ActiZ below.

De BuurtWoongroep

We are Social Rebels has addressed this social issue focusing on housing the past couple of months. They presented De BuurtWoongroep; a flexible living group spread throughout the neighbourhood. This community consists of people from different generations who form a social network, look out for each other and engage in activities together. What binds them together? Members of De BuurtWoongroep manage places in the neighbourhood together and share spaces.

Menu De BuurtWoongroep

The idea is that the members explore what they still miss in the neighbourhood together. Are there enough meeting places? Is there a place that can serve as a common living room and where activities can be held? Using the neighbourhood menu, the members then choose which ingredients they want to add and manage in the neighbourhood.

In short, De BuurtWoongroep concept creates greater social cohesion in the neighbourhood between young and old and encourages shared use of living space. This adds up to the elderly living longer and more actively in the neighbourhood.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Studio Anne Ligtenberg focused on the field of social products/services. The designers focused on providing good examples of preparing for old age. The conversation about your old age must be realistic, but it must also be about seeing opportunities. Studio Anne Ligtenberg wants to initiate this conversation with a card game. The studio worked on a tool that allows people to look at older people and their old age in an approachable and almost light-hearted way.

The personas of the card game

Everyone steps into the life of a character during the card game, an elder with their own interests and opinions. In addition, players are given a challenge, which can only be solved by working together with another character.

For most people, it is confrontational to think about their old age. It evokes negative connotations. This card game gets the conversation going and allows older generations to give advice and share their experiences and qualities.

Positive responses

Various ActiZ members gave their feedback and provided tips for the continuation of these projects. Ronald Schmidt, vice president of ActiZ, has a big smile on his face after the presentations. “It is so inspiring to talk about this together. If the demand for care doubles in the future and the number of employees drastically decreases, we will only survive if we find new solutions together. Design Thinking by young designers helps enormously. We have to do this together with the whole of society.”