OpenIDEO Takes the Next Steps for Healthy Ageing


The following post was written by Ashley Jablow on the OpenIDEO website.


In our Healthy Ageing Challenge, OpenIDEO community members from across the globe came together to explore what health, wellbeing and ageing mean to them. Sharing over 300 inspirations and collaboratively designing 134 ideas, our community gravitated toward solutions that nurtured intergenerational and peer-to-peer relationships, celebrated and incentivised active lifestyles, cared for our caregivers, empowered people to plan for their futures and designed environments for thriving at every age. In the end, six winning ideas were chosen by the community, our challenge sponsor Mayo Clinic and OpenIDEO.

While the challenge ended in late August, our momentum has continued to build since then. In September, Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation hosted the 2013 Transform Symposium, a three-day, multi-disciplinary convening around health, innovation and design. Mayo Clinic, feeling inspired by our challenge and our community's efforts, decided to extend a last-minute invitation to OpenIDEO community members T. Annie Nguyen and Sylvia Stein to present their winning ideas during a 60-person workshop. Facilitated by IDEO's Gretchen Addi, the workshop was attended by a range of healthcare professionals, architects, designers and journalists, and served as a great chance for Annie and Sylvia to get feedback on their ideas.

Annie shared two winning concepts at the workshop: Pop-up Wellness Lounge and Coordinator and Caregivers Wellness Toolkit. Both ideas tackled healthy ageing, but in unique ways: the Popup Wellness Lounge focused on creating community-based, health centers staffed with wellness coordinators who answer questions, facilitate important health conversations and design programs that promote healthy aging. The Caregivers Wellness Toolkit takes a different approach – focusing instead on providing support tools and special items like candles, gift certificates and other things that will provide comfort to people caring for others. As she reflected on the challenge, Annie said, "I really enjoyed this particular OpenIDEO challenge because of the opportunity I saw to make an impact. Healthy ageing is relevant to all of us and I felt so inspired by the stories I heard online at OpenIDEO as well as in-person at Transform. It was hard to not want to continually iterate concepts with each story I heard."

Sylvia's idea, informally dubbed ElderIDEO, is a series of design thinking workshops for older adults to identify issues that matter in their communities and use the design thinking process to create and pilot solutions to address them. After Transform, Sylvia remarked that while she'd come to the conference with a somewhat rigid notion of what the idea would look like, "The feedback I got was very illuminating and opened up my thinking to include a much wider and more diverse group of stakeholders (i.e. caregivers, staff, psychologists, technologists). It seems as though everyone wants to be involved in the design process!"

So what's next for the challenge's winning ideas? On OpenIDEO, ideas submitted to a challenge are available for anyone to build upon and implement. Sylvia has already started prototyping her idea with seniors in New York City and San Francisco. And Matthew Moore, a designer at Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation, shared that he and his team have just begun Mayo's own version of ElderIDEO with residents of Charter House, a continuing care facility. "The participants have been very encouraging so far and open-minded to a very new thing. The process of innovation," Matthew joked, "not simply coming up with ideas, but understanding needs and context to create meaningful and resilient solutions, is hard work!"

Hard work aside, Matthew and his team were very pleased with community's efforts and involvement in our challenge: "The highlight was the interest people had in the challenge itself. We believe that helping everyone maintain their health, wellbeing, and independence are vital – so it is encouraging that there was so much support. Meeting two of the winning authors – Annie and Sylvia – was a highlight as well. We had interacted online a great deal and while I was very impressed with both of them 'electronically,' I was that much more impressed by their intelligence, creativity and heart in person."

Cheers to our entire community for your interest, efforts and enthusiasm in this challenge! Stay tuned as we share more Realisation stories over the coming weeks.