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The age-inclusive network promoting active community life and health ageing

MA 2022
Inclusive design, Public service design, Health Ageing, Community Service

The NextAct is a participant-led network which empowers people 65+ to engage in interest-based communities in a way which they want and foster continuous engagement between members, finally enabling healthy ageing. It  not only brings 65+ adults independence and safety but the equal right to enjoy the experience of belonging within the neighbourhood.


NextAct was part of the" pioneering architecture for the later life sector" project led by UKRI,  Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and Cartwright Pickard Architects Ltd, UK’s leading architecture and planning company. I worked closely with the team and discovered a new public community for later life from both architecture and service design perspectives. The research for the project was supported by the Chelsea Theatre and the Bridge church Battersea.


In UK, nearly a quarter of the population will be over 65 by 2040 and 1/3 of them will live alone.The public life and community engagement is vital for their mental health. However, the COVID-19 has brought big challenges or lock down shut off the access to their usual forms social contact. Although the lock down ends now, the limited information channel and online services trend stop them re-engaging in communities. Under the post-normal life trend, it is a good time to engage with all age group to shape a more inclusive neighbourhood.


Most community services currently assume what over 65s want and treat them all the same way, neglecting their differing personalities, and desire for independence, engagement and fun. Over 65s cannot find the proper support to engage in local communities in a way which they like. This leads to bad mental health, low quality of life, social exclusion and unhealthy ageing.

Key Insights

1. The majority activities treat every older adult in a same way, neglecting the individual differences

2.  Some services are communicated in the wrong channel and tune, which bring more ageism and segregation

3. There is lacking of opportunity and support for over 65 to show their potential and join the community co-creation

Design Principles

1.  Predictable environment and Information

2.  Long-term and Consistent connection

3. Don’t put them into a box

4. Offline-based information channels


empower people aged 65+, who are active and self-motivated, to participate and develop the community which fosters continuous engagement with others, consequently enabling healthy ageing?


Our participant-led and age-inclusive network empowers active and motivated people who are over the age of 65 to engage with interest-based communities in the way they want, helping them make continuous connections and enrich their future life.


NextAct provides personalised service and continuous network to empower adults over 65 to co-create, develop and engage their own communities. This helps them to build social confidence, speak out about demands, support each other through peer engagement, and embrace active ageing together. As volunteers of this network, other age groups could get involved as an intergenerational community and change perceptions of older adults. For organisations and local councils, as an essential partners of the network, they could understand the true demands of older adults. They can then provide more suitable services, spread network impact and break public stereotypes gradually. 


Exceptionally thanks to my tutor John Makepeace for precious guidance and support; to Chris McGinley and Cecilia Zecca from Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design for insightful feedback; to Caroline Larken, Khadidja N'diaye and Tom Dowding from communities for their continuous engagement and co-creation; and to all workshop participants and interviewees.