Melbourne Knowledge Week

Melbourne Knowledge Week 16/05/2016

COLLATED INPUT: Workshop and Public Session

The following data is a grouped collation of the input gained from both the morning workshop held with a group of older people and academics, and the public workshop at 12.30 - 1.30pm on Friday 6th May at the Ian Potter Museum of Art. General principles have been aggregated, data has been grouped into the four key themes that came through in the morning workshop, and online resources for additional information have been included.

KEY: Q denotes a question | Ex denotes an example.

Photographer: Patrick Hamon

Photographer: Patrick Hamon

General Principles

  • We need intergenerational interaction and connection
  • We need places that are out of the house, low cost and communal
  • Places need to be shared and age integrated
  • We need networks of familiar people - librarian, bus driver…
  • Contact with nature is vital and has significant health benefits
  • Co-design is critical - designers need to understand what is required
  • We must create places where people can get together over common interests
  • We need clear, legible and adequate signage for wayfinding

Photographer: Patrick Hamon

Photographer: Patrick Hamon

1. Making Neighbourhoods more friendly

Q. How do we make places accessible to all ages?

Q. How do we facilitate intergenerational interaction and connection?

Q. What types of activities best facilitate adhoc conversations?

Ex: Dog walking is one of the best ways of meeting people

  • Parks with native flora & fauna are good communal spaces with access to nature
  • The social dimension of parks and their flora & fauna (inter-species interaction)
  • Enclose large spaces at the perimeter (fence public parks; benches in parks)
  • Places need to be convivial - friendly – hospitable
  • Avoid intrusive elements like flashing lights, advertising, loud music, rapid movements
  • Different demographic and cultural groups will have different preferences
  • Design for 8-80yr olds!
  • Design and education for dementia
  • Food is a great conversation starter - everyone can have an opinion & talk about food
  • Sharing food is a sign of friendship and hospitality
  • Libraries need to be properly funded

A] Security

  • Crime and a sense of security
  • Elderly are targets for crime
  • Design to prevent crime
  • Perceived surveillance prevents crime
  • Friends in vulnerable areas
  • Too many (crowded, rushing, jostling, uncomfortable) vs too few people (isolated, crime)
  • Used spaces are safer than unused spaces
  • People are more fearful of going out on their own as the get older

B] Physical environment

Q. How relevant are current housing types? Are they adaptable over the life course?

Ex: Homeshare where elderly people living on their own offer rent-free accommodation for students in exchange for 10hrs of work per week (gardening, maintenance…)

Ex: Humanitas (Netherlands) - students live rent-free for 30hrs per month of work

Ex: Potter Museum toilets - few and hidden on the ground floor in a corridor

Ex: Potter air temperature – too cold for comfort

Ex: Housing decisions of older Australians:

  • Growth corridors: lack public transport and amenities in growth corridors | higher levels of social isolation and loneliness
  • Suburbs need to be designed with access to activities and facilities
  • People don’t want to move out of the inner city areas due to lack of access to facilities/services and walkability
  • Contact with nature is vital - nature deficit syndrome in children | so many elders love gardening
  • Access to toilets both at home and when travelling
  • Facilities for older travellers especially in unfamiliar areas, countries…
  • Monochrome rooms are confusing for people with dementia - they can’t differentiate planes
  • There is an app for toilet locations
  • ‘Loo with a view’
  • Toilets with handrails are required
  • Many places don’t have lifts - stairs are challenging for seniors. Staff need to know to direct older people to lifts rather than stairs
  • Ergonomic design of toilets/bathrooms (Ex Melbourne Recital Centre bathrooms are monochrome, dark, shiny, confusing)
  • People with dementia are easily confused by lack of or unclear signage
  • Wayfinding - signage if often confusing & inadequate (commercial centres, Unimelb)
  • Getting lost is very stressful

C] Public Transport

Ex: London buses have a handy ramp for wheelchairs & prams under the driver’s seat

Ex: Travellers aid - volunteers who help people travelling on PT

  • Trams: some are friendly others are not > lack of seating and handles
  • Designers need to consult with older people to understand their needs, with enough lead time to allow governments to develop suitable well-planned models
  • Often young people are absorbed in their mobile phones & don’t see seniors standing or move out of reserved seating for older or disabled people
  • Some young people always stand up, others are unaware or deliberately rude
  • Buses are not age friendly
  • Train - signage is confusing
  • Trains: passageways are narrow & there is nothing to hang onto in them
  • Drivers: some are smooth & others are very insensitive
  • Tram & bus shelters are inadequate (wind, rain, sun) and there are not enough of them
  • Airport: wheelchair pick up locations and interface. Wheelchairs cannot be taken to parking areas. This is a traumatic experience and increases the disadvantage for the elderly
  • Airports: It is confusing where groups come out and are seeking others and/or luggage

D] Ideas and Resources #1

  • Many things could be done using the pop-up or mobile model: services, galleries, art, museum objects, medical services (blood pressure), gardens, pets, food (healthy, tasty, well-prepared)
  • Ex: Ice-cream van visiting neighbourhoods > grandparents & grandchildren
  • Mobile libraries in neighbourhoods for the less mobile that go to: aged-care facilities, shopping centres, cafe areas and Centrelink
  • Neighbourhood car-sharing & community buses in inner city, regional and growth corridors
  • Companion animals - pets visits to aged-care facilities > Partner with animal shelters to develop a program
  • Digital contact with nature for those who cannot access it (ill/disabled…)
  • Fund libraries to provide: intergenerational activities | computers and IT education | information for seniors | learning programs | comfortable meeting spaces | accessible services for less wealthy citizens
  • Transport - a special carriage to a particular cultural event | People feel more comfortable talking to strangers in dedicated carriages
  • Include transport and hospitality as part of an event
  • Creating a world that works for young and old!

2. Intergenerational Interaction

Q. The question is ‘what can older people do for the community’?

Ex. Dog parks are great intergenerational places for adhoc conversations & friendships

  • Shared experiences | Interconnectedness | grandparents & grandchildren
  • Young people are often not interested in what elders have to say
  • It’s a good thing that the young are snapping at our heels, challenging us and pushing us
  • It’s important to integrate older people’s groups into the community
  • Ex. Yarra Libraries - one often sees older people tutoring younger students

A] Technology

  • Many older people live alone and need social contact in any form!
  • Young people don’t necessarily realise that older people are not computer literate
  • Technology is not just an age issue - tradesmen & artists may not require technology so won’t know how to use it (other than mobile phones)
  • Software gets updated all the time, it’s expensive and requires ongoing learning
  • Big business is phasing out human interaction - transactions are via technology
  • Face to face transactions and customer service are more expensive and so discriminate against many elders
  • Banking is mostly done online - this is hard for people who are not computer literate or don’t have access to a computer | No choice for older citizens
  • Banks are closing down branches (anger in the community) & transactions are done online
  • Education is an investment for companies in the transition to new systems
  • We need education about using technology: Libraries, banks, community centres…
  • People need to do it, not just watch it otherwise they won’t learn | good teaching
  • Adjustment from a Mac to a PC or vice versa can be traumatic for older people
  • Consider the interface between humans and computers
  • Technology can be isolating - all of us need a mixture of internet and face to face interactions, NOT just online
  • Need to weigh up the advantages of doing things online vs lack of social contact & development of social skills along with the incidental exercise of having to go to a bank branch, Post Office, etc

B] Storytelling

  • Links to history
  • An archetypal activity - all cultures and peoples tell stories
  • Listening is important for older people - someone to listen to them
  • Memories are an important part of history - the telling of them is a positive experience

C] Activities, Common interest groups, Information

Q: How do we find out about everything that is available?

Ex: Park exercise circuits for older people - In Hong Kong

Ex: Beijing - local park with 100s of small groups: tai chi, mahjong etc

Ex: Meet up - neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something…| Must have access to the internet - can be age-specific groups:

  • Gyms | Bridge Groups | Book Clubs (dominated by women)
  • Walking Groups | Lawn Bowls (NB the film ‘Cracker Jack’)
  • Probis | U3A | Men’s Sheds
  • We need some central information source (GPs, Post Office, Community Health Centre…)

D] Ideas and Resources #2

  • Start Grandparents groups like Mothers groups - for company, conversation, information…
  • Causes and challenges of the future as catalysts for intergenerational conversations: political, refugees, animals, and climate change…
  • Music (or other special interest) groups: partner U3A with schools > interaction > joint concert > exchange
  • Virtual contact: virtual meals using skype, conversations, contact with nature…
  • Banks, insurance companies and big business should be legally obliged to provide education for older citizens on how to use technology. Staff of these businesses could be volunteers for this service thus providing community service
  • Technology is good intergenerational activity - quite young people (grandchildren) teaching elders. The very young have patience whereas teenagers don’t
  • Lobby government to make this mandatory > contribution to the community
  • School groups and seniors sharing and recording historical knowledge - for example!
  • Multigenerational exercise circuits
  • Why art matters more as we age:
  • My Dancing Heart:
  • Bike-riding:

3. Spirituality and meaning

  • Not necessarily religion, but whatever provides meaning, solace, comfort…
  • Death of friends or family - times when one is in need of something
  • Need for counselling at times of stress and grief
  • Death is a taboo subject, so not discussed as much as it could be

A] Preparing for older age

  • How to access information and services
  • Habits to mitigate dementia
  • Possibility of aged-care - needs to be discussed
  • Education about older age needs to be discussed with younger people so they can optimise their choices
  • Goal setting can be positive - walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela > an intergenerational activity, conversations are easy to start, easy to make friends

B] Ideas and Resources 3

4. Co-design, engagement, empowerment

  • Banks and insurance companies for example, do not consult older people with regard to their services, which are becoming almost exclusively online. This discriminates against those who are not IT literate or don’t have access to a computer and the Internet
  • Many older people were doing TAFE courses but funding changes meant they could no longer access them
  • Government is not listening - 1800 numbers are not very efficient/effective
  • Writing to relevant body can be frustrating as there is no response > activism > politicians
  • Need to be heard nevertheless, through writing letters, petitions, etc.

A] Ideas and Resources 4

Photographer: Patrick Hamon

Photographer: Patrick Hamon