The Co-Living project encourages social interaction in elderly care homes through an easily adopted ICT platform that helps older adults to stay actively engaged with friends, family and the world.
Maintaining a healthy social life can be difficult for seniors in care homes when even light physical and cognitive disabilities act as barriers to an active, community-oriented lifestyle. Aiming to boost social interaction and wellbeing amongst older adults in care, the Co-Living project has developed an ICT platform that’s all about people meeting people. “That is our central philosophy,” explains Roy Beumers, coordinator of CoLiving.
An unusual approach
Co-Living was the first European project that Zuyderland, formerly Orbis Medical and Healthcare Group participated in. As end-users, it was an unusual step to take the coordinating role on a technical project. “Everyone said we were crazy. It’s a complicated thing to take on but it allows better coordination and control over a project,” says Beumers. Led from the enduser’s perspective, it ensured the product’s optimisation towards healthcare organisations and better acceptance by relatively active and healthy elderly. Upgraded and commercialised as CiTARD Active SCN, by the project partner Citard Services Ltd, the CoLiving platform has been successfully installed in four elderly care homes in The Netherlands.
A shared ethos
If senior populations aren’t encouraged to get involved in stimulating communities through ICT, Beumers believes they will face a difficult future. “They need to be connected with the world and with other people,” he says. “Technology can help them to stay socially active and also give them the feeling they can still be part of this modern world by using modern technologies. That’s why AAL is so important for elderly people and the care environment.”
Co-Living targeted a large demographic, older adults who are in care homes but still able to actively contribute to the community. A combination of funding changes and the financial crisis, however, has replaced the original target group with the elderly population requiring far more personal assistance. To reclaim their key demographic, Beumers spearheaded a strategic partnership with Citard Services to target the elderly homecare and daycare markets through AAL projects and other European projects. “Now we’re preparing a sort of app for the elderly. For a few euros, they can build their own community.