Nurtur empowers seniors to engage more within their communities, by creating a co-sharing network, and utilising residents' accumulated knowledge and interests to boost intergenerational engagement.
Radhika Agrawal
Fanghui Song
Camden Council
Tackling Social Isolation Amongst Seniors
Amongst Camden's social issues, social isolation is an important issue within its neighbourhoods. More than 50% of seniors in Camden stay in one-person households and by 2020, 47% of London's working population will be above the age of 50. We have collaborated with Camden Council to see how we can tackle social isolation amongst seniors, in more sustainable ways.
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Uncovering Gaps and Discovering Opportunities
To prevent seniors from feeling socially isolated and ensure a more sustainable ageing experience for them, we decided to start our intervention at an earlier stage, aiming to enhance their current social support network, "prescribing people to people". We had meetings with Camden Council, Camden Older People's Day Service, NextDoor, etc, and conducted ethnographic research with potential users, through co-creation workshops and photo journals to understand their social support network better. Beyond ourselves, there are 4 layers of support, in which we identified 5 problems, as shown below. With seniors being perceived as vulnerable in society, their value is often neglected. But, while talking to them, we were stunned by the abundance of experience they have, over all their years of work and living life. So, we found that there is a missed opportunity to reutilise senior’s accumulated knowledge and experiences to empower their social support network and enhance their sense of agency by boosting community engagement across generations.

Co-designing Communities with Nurtur

We want people to see ageing in a new light. Welcome to a world where people don’t know you by your age, but by who you are, your experiences, your passion and what makes you, you. Introducing Nurtur, an age-inclusive co-sharing platform. Nurtur comprises 4 touchpoints. First, we will use local seniors as our ambassadors to create awareness about their hidden value. Then, a Nurtur Pack is delivered to seniors' homes to help introduce the service to them. It includes a leaflet and community map, which provides timely information about ongoing activities in the nearest spaces around them. Next, Nurtur’s Street Fair is used to onboard all neighbourhood residents. Here, residents have the unique opportunity to co-design their community activities through the community map shown. They will be able to share their skills and interests and see where they’d like to co-learn from each other in their neighbourhood.

Nurturing engagements with the Nurtur App

The Nurtur App aims to help residents easily explore their neighbourhoods and connect with the right people and places. They can now look for people with similar interests, or for advice from a neighbourhood expert when they need it on job applications, etc. Residents can choose to meet in person at their local neighbourhood facilities, such as cafes and stores, as the App allows them to decide what kind of community activities they want to run, and where to organise it. We also want to make sure everyone has a chance to engage with their communities, so for those who find it comfortable or easier to connect from their homes, an online chatting and video conferencing system is also available. Within the App, we have established a rewards system, where residents who receive help can send a badge to others to show appreciation. As residents collect badges, they can exchange them for local business vouchers, flower seeds or street fair tokens.
How are we Unique?
Looking at some of the existing services for seniors in Camden and London, most of them, being structured and fixed, leave very little room for seniors to define their own experiences. While our research shows that seniors don’t want to have a fixed weekly life. They want to be able to take charge of experiencing what they want, when they want to. It is also essential to encourage people in their later lives to have engagements with people across ages, so as to maintain their cognitive abilities and confidence, and to keep the seniors in track. So Nurtur is trying to boost more intergenerational engagements for seniors and bring control back to them to enhance their sense of agency and let seniors define their own community living experience.
Nurtur's Value-Based Ecosystem
In Nurtur's ecosystem, local facilities and businesses will become the new meeting hubs. With increased brand exposure, local businesses will also provide more community-based events and discounts for Nurtur users as rewards. Our source of funding comes from Tesco and Co-op. As active members of the community, they have community grants such as Bags of Help that we can apply for. Large chains like Starbucks, who have allocated budgets for CSR, would also benefit from collaborating with Nurtur. Outside the community, Camden Council will monitor and support the whole system and share the experience with the other TRAs. With the outspread of COVID-19, we noticed the increase in informal care and support that residents are providing each other in communities. We believe that Nurtur will connect people and places for more collective growth in the long run, and build more resilient and independent communities in the "new normal" era.
special thanks
Thank you for everyone who has been with us on this amazing journey. We would like to specially thank Jane, our project tutor at the RCA, Elena, Senior Policy Officer from the Camden Council, Laurie and Liana, Service Managers, from the Older People's Day Service, David and Debby from the IARA, Amedeo from NextDoor and our other experts. And last but not the least, our users, Ella, Psychology Student from UCL, and our ever so inspiring seniors, like Margot, Ex-Lawyer and DehTa, Ex-Michelin Star Chef, who helped our project come to life!
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