ZorgLab – Ageing in Place Aalst
The aim of the project is to create an experimental environment for companies and care organizations which objective is to understand the current and future needs of the elderly in their home situation in order to fine tune their products and services accordingly. To this end the project puts in place a series of tests and co-creation workshops in which the users’ experience and knowledge is shared, in order to understand which infrastructural, social and societal conditions must be met in order to be able to “grow older in one’s own living environment”. In that respect, the project focuses on the specific context of housing and the immediate living environment, offering an environment and a series of support services to quickly implement, adapt and valorise innovative services, processes and products, in an efficient and effective fashion. The project has made two demonstration residences available in which the latest new applications, infrastructure and services can be tested by the elderly and caregivers themselves. Furthermore, forty elderly home are used to directly observe and test the development of necessary adjustments. These homes are loosely grouped into four “Home Care Neighbourhoods” concentrated around a specific healthcare institute. In order to combat isolation, the project involves the elderly in public life as long as possible. Therefore, the service offering and public space as part of the living environment can also be tested for adjustments for seniors. In this respect, essential in the project is the active participation of older adults, informal caregivers and professional caregivers in the creation and testing processes. In a panel-based living lab approach, they form the panel, which is the core of the lab. Every type of older adult (50-55+) is involve, provided that he/she is living at home. Finally, 20% of adults involved are socially vulnerable. Most elderly people indicate that they would prefer to live at home and close to their familiar social environment. In this respect, informal care becomes increasingly important when older people’s independency is put under pressure. Furthermore, older persons prefer to stay in their own home where they can live longer if their home environment is adapted in terms of comfort, infrastructure (such as space, electricity and home automation) and design according to an innovation logic.