Co-creation sessions with seniors
E-Seniors organized two co-creation sessions with seniors on April 8th and on April 9th 2019 in E-Seniors’ premises in Paris. The main objectives of the co-creation session in France were:
1) To identify and gather the participants in the situation of loneliness or who are more likely to be in this situation;
2) To exchange about their personal situation and the reasons that brought them to those sessions;
3) To define the concept of loneliness and how each person foresees it;
4) To explore the main causes and the consequences of loneliness;
5) To define the main obstacles for being socially active and involved;
6) To think over about the possible solutions to fight against loneliness.
The participants were divided into two co-creation sessions because of the high number of interested seniors. of them were already retired and a large majority was living alone due to different reasons (death of their family members, children living far away, personal choice etc.).
E-Seniors started the session with “ice-breaking questions” in order to know better the profile of the participants and the reason of their involvement.
The groups agreed on the fact that isolation and loneliness corresponds to the loss of autonomy due to physical problems, geographical reasons and a personal feeling of emptiness, absence of social links and communication.
During both co-creation sessions, some of the solutions came up in common such as the importance of being socially involved through leisure and cultural activities in-group, having networks of friends and families. In addition, many of them highlighted the importance of developing or continuing having their own projects or practising spiritual activities such as meditation. Other important point refers to the fact that being selfless and helping others in need helps not to be self-centred and think only about their own personal problems (eg doing volunteering activities, helping associations etc.). Some seniors mentioned the fact having a pet might help not only to have a company at home but also to create the social links in the neighbourhood and with external world. Moreover, participants agreed on the fact that ICT devices can be very helpful in daily life and socialization.
All participants were very enthusiastic about this encounter and exchanged their contacts to do some things together and they were eager to follow next steps of the project.
Co-creation sessions with experts
E-Seniors met several experts during one focus group session organized in E-Seniors’ premises in Paris on April 2nd. Adult educators, seniors’ volunteers as well as the director of E-Seniors were presented during this meeting. In addition, E-Seniors organized three additional interviews with other experts (coordinator of day care centre in Paris, geriatrician and senior’s expert).
Each expert faces seniors in situation of loneliness in their everyday activity. Some of them provide IT classes or do activities in contact with seniors. They observe the situation of loneliness every day and they know how to identify such a person and to react accordingly. Volunteers try to help them in different associations and hospitals by providing their time and activities to help them to feel them less lonely. The experts working in day care and medical centres are in direct contact with this target group and provide them medical and psychological help.
The coordinator of the day care centre underlined that the first thing to do is to count people in loneliness situation in order to provide them needed support as soon as possible. She mentioned that numerous initiatives and actions are already taken place in Paris but they are still unknown for the large part of senior population. Therefore, there is a real lack of access to these initiatives with a huge assistance need (eg family, friends, caregivers, social workers, superintendents, fire workers, postal workers). Moreover, local events such as flea markets, fairies, and neighbourhood celebrations are good opportunities to create social links among people. In additional, communication means changed and require being able to use new technologies (computers, smartphones, administrative and medical procedures). Furthermore, all experts agreed on the importance of intergenerational activities and exchanges that both sides can benefit. One of the seniors’ expert emphasized that intergenerational housing and diverse activities are a good opportunity to fight isolation and reinforce social inclusion. Finally, they mentioned the importance of reorganization of transport to help seniors to move around and to assist to different actions and events.
All participants were very positive about Healthy Loneliness’ objectives and direct involvement of senior citizens in order to find together solutions and best practices. They were interested to know more about next steps.