The challenge is to target people in their 40s and 50s, points out Josef Martin, founder of best practice elderly care c
ooperative in Riedlingen (Germany). His organisation has been supporting elderly people to stay in their homes since 1991. The cooperative principle is simple: Helpers, often elderly people themselves, support each other with services such as day care, transportation and assisted living and receive time credits (or money). Once these members are in need of care themselves they can redeem their credits for being taken care of by others. Thus, it is vital to raise awareness among people in their 40s and 50s to keep the system running. Josef Martin successfully shows how to do so with 750 members and 130 collaborators in his care cooperative.
Taking elderly care to the next level
In March 2015 Josef Martin met with the team of iCareCoops in Vienna to share his experience and launch this ambitious two-year project funded by the AAL Programme. iCareCoops that takes the cooperative model as implemented in Riedlingen and over 200 other care cooperatives in Germany to the next level. Eight partners from seven European countries create novel ICT-driven solutions to empower carers and elderly people to tackle the increasing demand for elderly care at a time of limited resources and extend the time elderly people can live in their preferred environment. iCareCoops is designed as a three-level-concept with information, cooperative, and, AAL-driven service levels. These intelligent, interactive, and inclusive services are developed with deep end-user involvement and provided via a powerful web-based platform, a mobile app, and an Open API.
Scientific research as strong foundation for stronger elderly care
The team of iCareCoops has been conducting comprehensive research from literature reviews and best practice analyses to stakeholder interviews and focus groups. Any attempt to develop a stronger approach supporting existing cooperatives and promoting the establishment of new ones, requires a thorough understanding of the services that these cooperatives are intending to offer as well as in-depth knowledge of the requirements and challenges of all involved actors. Early results surprisingly show, that despite the growing popularity of the sharing economy and cooperative models, there is an overall lack of literature on cooperatives for many European countries. Diverse political contexts, different legal bases and the different use of the term “cooperative” result in a variety of approaches and a very regional focus of models. Nonetheless, all models provide a broad and adapting variety of support, that iCareCoops now integrates in a novel, holistic and easily customisable platform.
From research to concept through deep end-user involvement
The team of iCareCoops meets again in Ljubuljana to together transform all gained knowledge into the concept of the web-platform and its tools. Under the coordination of SYNYO they design the basic architecture, the overall framework and the service modules in multiple workshop panels over the course of two days. End-users then test and review results in the form of paper prototypes and wireframes and provide feedback on initial designs. The team of iCareCoops is well aware, that only through the involvement of elderly people, who are supposed to benefit from the solutions, iCareCoops can reach the ambitious goal the team has committed to: improve elderly care and create tools with a long-term impact on assisted living.