“Why don’t vulnerable older adults reach out to available services?”

Client: Health Foundation for Western & Central New York (HFWCNY)

Project: Aging By Design

Timeline: August 2016 – Present

Project Services: Design Research, Service Design, Knowledge Mobilization

The Challenge:

Dozens of services and providers exist across the State of New York who aim to support vulnerable older adults (VOAs). Yet so many VOAs currently do not access these services—whether they are unaware of them, don’t feel comfortable or safe accessing services, or face barriers like poverty or limited ability. HFWCNY and its network of partners, including organizations that support mobility, health, financial planning, recreation, faith, and others, needed to collaborate better to increase the impact of their programs—improving the lives of VOAs by designing solutions with them rather than for them.

The Outcomes:

Building on the wealth of information on VOAs generated by HFWCNY as well as previous work between Overlap and HFWCNY, Overlap was re-contracted to support HFWCNY in identifying real needs, motivations, thoughts, and behaviours of VOAs as well as improve collaboration with partner organizations.

The project kicked off with Design Days, two workshops for service providers across Western and Central New York. The workshops sought to introduce providers to human-centred design and how they might use design to connect with vulnerable populations. A subsequent Design Research phase gathered rich insight on the needs of VOAs. Overlap trained Street Teams to support this work, providing tools and frameworks for gathering data from VOAs directly as well as individuals close to them. Overlap also conducted Ethnographic Research and Stakeholder Labs, observing, visiting, and talking with VOAs across the state. From insights gathered, Overlap developed a Toolkit for service providers to co-design alongside VOAs to spark new ideas as they deliver a service, plan an event, or design a program around the needs of older adults.

The next phase of the project is a comprehensive 12-month coaching program for service providers led by Overlap, set to launch in fall 2017.

 “Design thinking brings the client around to our side of the table, and we sit side by side, working to solve the problem that we’re both addressing.”

-Ann Monroe, Former HFWCNY President