Title of ArticleExperiences of older adults and undergraduate students in co-creating age-friendly services in an educational living lab
Type of ArticleOriginal Practice Development and Research
Author/sAnnemieke van den Berg, Belinda Dewar, Carolien Smits and Jan S. Jukema
ReferenceVolume 9, Issue 2, Article 2
Date of PublicationNovember 2019
KeywordsAppreciative inquiry, co-creation, emotional touchpoints, living lab, older adults, undergraduate students

Background: One of the purposes of an undergraduate programme in gerontology is to facilitate future professionals’ development of co-creation competences. A newly designed living lab serves as a powerful learning environment, where students and older adults can work together in creating age-friendly services and products.

Aim: The aim of this study is to gain insight into the shared experiences of older adults and students in co-creating age-friendly services in an educational living lab.

Methods: The living lab and subsequently the research was informed by appreciative inquiry. The study has a qualitative, explorative and multistage design, with a six-stage alternating process of data collection and analysis. Data were collected from six individual interviews (three older adults and three students) followed by two group interviews with two other older adults and four other students. Data analysis resulted in a shared story of working together in the living lab.

Findings: The co-creation experiences of older adults and students are highlighted in a rich and meaningful narrative. A shared narrative has been constructed from both perspectives, older adults and students. There are three central themes: working together, our learning experiences and our best experience. This rich and meaningful narrative stresses the importance of building a relationship to foster co-creation and uncertainty as beneficial to equality and shared responsibility.

Conclusion: Co-creation in an educational context is meaningful to older adults and students. Appreciative inquiry in both the research and practice of the living lab can facilitate relationship equality, which is highly valued by participants.

Implications for practice:

  • A co-creation approach in a living lab results in experiences of equality for both students and older adults
  • Successful co-creation relies on investment in time and energy, and allowance of uncertainty
  • Older adults bring valuable skills and expertise into age-friendly service design, challenging ageist assumptions

This article by Annemieke van den Berg, Belinda Dewar, Carolien Smits and Jan S. Jukema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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