David Wilcox and Drew Mackie. v 3.0 September 2015 | Contact details
Following our exploration of Living Well in the Digital Age, we are developing plans to put into practice key ideas about the ways that older people can use digital technology for personal wellbeing, and how organisations can provide support.
The plans focus on ways to increase local opportunities and support networks, by combining community building, social network mapping, personal and organisational technology and storytelling. We’ll develop a model for combining these methods, work with local groups in several areas, and create a co-design kit for people to create their own solutions, using a set of workshop games and simulations.
We are calling these Living Labs.
Although initially designed for “ageing better” the approach offers benefits to people at any age, and any community projects aiming to use technology for social benefit.
This paper includes:
Here's the basis of a six month development plan, created in conjunction with Paul Webster and Miles Maier of the Connecting Care project. We are now revising.
Our aim is to develop a set of practical processes that will put digital technology at the heart of community-based initiatives to support living well, at whatever age. We will do that by developing a model and open source package of methods that builds on investment in digital inclusion and skills training programmes.
These inclusion programmes are creating widespread capacity to access and use the Internet. What's now needed is further action on three fronts: firstly ways to tailor personal digital offerings to meet individual needs - because everyone's situation and requirements are different; secondly ways to build the capacity of organisations in the community that can provide new opportunities to digitally-capable older people; thirdly ensure the personal and organisational capacity-building is designed to make the best of local whole-system approaches to wellbeing driven by digital by default policies.
One high-value opportunity to combine personal and community capacity-building is to integrate the use of digital technology in programmes like social prescribing that that aim to connect older people with local activities and support. Our long-term aim is to provide voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) with powerful co-design, digital and network methods through a two-year support programme and kit.
Our first task - which is the subject of this proposal - is to co-design the model and package of methods by bringing together our experience and that of others in digital capacity-building and programme planning. That will ensure the best use of resources in the field, and pave the way to widespread adoption.
In order to work effectively, any whole system approach like social prescribing requires the key interests to understand the nature of individual needs, the opportunities in the system (the community), and to find pathways to connect people and activities. They must be able to share information and communicate effectively with each other, and use digital technology both in management systems and in health and care activities.
We are already developing this model for families with Croydon Council and Croydon Voluntary Action.
Our general model will bring together innovative methods to:
These and other methods - developed by Drew Mackie, David Wilcox and colleagues - will be added to the overall portfolio of technology support offered by the Connecting Care team. These have been successfully delivered - and evaluated - through workshops, webinars, a helpline, and knowledge base as well as on-site with organisations. The proposal is also informed by research with Nominet Trust and Age Action Alliance into Living Well in the Digital Age over several years.
After six months of co-design and development work, the team will be able to offer support to voluntary and community organisations in a range of situations where they are operating as intermediaries between service providers and service users - or aiming to help local people make the best of local opportunities for living well. For example:
In this project - as finally realised - we expect the skills and systems supported to include database management, communication technologies, geographic and network mapping, use of social media and awareness of apps and touchscreen devices. In addition we will cover the potential of digital technologies in self-managed health care and wellbeing.
While we have developed and used all of the methods outlined here, they need to be tailored to fit the scenarios described, and to work together.
In order to do we need support for a six-month co-design and development programme. During that period we will:In order to do we need support for a six-month co-design and development programme. During that period we will:
During this process we will use workshop games and simulations that we have developed over the past two years, and tested with community and ageing organisations. We have evolved a ficitious town of Slipham, and begun to populate it with a range of fictitious but realistic organisations and individuals. The simulations, used together or separately, create a Living Lab for demonstration, and then planning local programmes. They cover:
Using this simulation kit, it is possible to play through the different scenarios that we might wish to support.
The simulation will evolve a model and set of methods that can become an open source framework for development of a kit once we are working more widely in the field.
The kit and Labs proposal followed our exploration into Living Well in the Digital Age and Ageing Better Innovation, that included a process of gathering resources, developing provocations, refining challenges and generating ideas for action. This threw up issues at different levels. For example:
For individuals, how to:
For groups and organisations, how to:
For policymakers, funders and investors, how to:
We found during the exploration that people feel research is often duplicated and often isn’t in a form that can be used practically; organisations in the field don’t cooperate because they are competing for funding; there is little understanding among ageing organisations of the importance of digital technology.
For example, there is nothing yet in the strategy of the Centre for Ageing Better about technology and digital innovation. Organisations work hierarchically in professional silos. A symposium on ‘Transforming not excluding – the impact of information technology and innovation on later life’ organised by SEEFA, identified the challenges to innovation as “ SEEFA”.
We think that the barriers to innovation often reflect different worldviews. Here’s thoughts on that from a blog post on shifting from research and reports to innovation
We produced papers and blog posts to promote an approach based on a more innovative worldview, network thinking, and the practical application of technology. Here’s some:
In developing practical solutions, we need to think about the three levels indicated above:
We tested what might be involved by running a number of workshop simulations including personas to explore individual needs and preferences; scenarios for individuals, organisations and localities, tech tools and methods that might be used; mapping to identify assets and show relationships.
A long list of components emerged for a Kit and Labs:
These components operate at different levels. Perhaps like this:
All this is thinking in progress, that will be clarified through more conversations, and the task of developing practical work with Croydon and other partners. We could map the relationships between different components and levels. We could then see:
For example, this paper on explorations show one sequence: starting with some research, provocations to develop challenges and ideas for action, mapping to discover resources, co-design workshop to plan action, and network building.
A different sequence might start with a simulation to help create a shared mindset, and show the different components that need to be organised.
Proposals to develop the kit and Labs can be constructed to fit the preferred methodology of different funders. So we need a base map of components, and then lots of different process maps.
The briefing paper for our workshop with the DCLG Grey Cells Open Policy Making Initiative shows one approach to developing a Lab.
The underlying ideas in the kit and Labs include:
Recurrent themes from conversations in our exploration are that research is duplicated, innovations don’t scale, people don’t know what’s happening elsewhere, organisations don’t cooperate, existing knowledge exchanges aren't used extensively - but innovation often comes from conversations and stories that cross professional boundaries.
Although kits can provide methods for innovation, and Labs the context, it is people who make things work. So at both local and national levels we should focus on finding people who want to make things happen, and to share ideas and experience, and help them connect.
At local level that's what professionals and volunteers do, whether called community builders, connectors, organisers, or mobilisers. The kit we are developing will offer them additional digital tools for mapping, recording, communicating and running workshop.
At national level the same sort of network building is needed, following the same principles: connect what is there, don’t create new organisations or projects - and generally do do what others are already doing, or could do with some additional support. So we’ll be looking for:
Like local community builders, we’ll aim to spend two years developing a kit that is open for development, making connections - and then move on.
The first task will be to undertake three sorts of mapping:
The aim is not to create a new network - but to help with connections within, for example, Age Action Alliance, and with other networks involved in strength-based community development, health and care, innovation.
Where people are already using social media, it will be relatively easy to make connections. Where they are not, we will offer guidance on how to adopt new methods, and also how to organise meetups. We hope that funders in the field will help mobilise and connect those they support.
Network building is already successful at local level. Nationally there is a lot of activity on social media, and many excellent events. We believe we can help create a much more effective system if we concentrate on join-up innovation, to complement start-ups.
We will shortly begin a preliminary mapping exercise.
If you are interested in any of these issues, please get in touch. As part of the mapping, we'll plan a more open system for communication.