The web-based platform for older people, Palette is entering a new test phase. Researcher Henk Herman Nap from Vilans: ‘This month, a group of eighty seniors will use this platform on a weekly basis. Local deployment is very important, because older people want to use such a platform mainly to be able to meet one another in real life.’
Older adults can use Palette to find social contacts, activities, (volunteer) work and support. The platform will be deployed locally, but will be applicable for every municipality in Europe.
Local deployment works
Nap: ‘With the people from Oisterwijk in the Netherlands, we have already organised two sessions on how Palette works. Immediately we noticed the benefits of local deployment. An older cyclist, for example, shared that he was looking for a buddy to go cycling on weekends and found him via the platform. There was also an organisation that guides young people with an intellectual disability. They are looking for day activities for a boy who can do chores, such as putting up pictures on the wall. Arranging this via formal channels, such as the municipality, is a little overambitious for him, but visiting the homes of older adults suits him well. Palette will soon be able to facilitate this kind of contact.’
Older people find privacy extra important
You obviously do not want a boy who claims to be a handyman but turns out to be a burglar instead. Therefore, the platform also facilitates reliability. In the future, users will be able to use stars to rate offered contacts and services. There is also a lot of attention for guaranteeing privacy. Research has shown that seniors find this very important. Nap: ‘I am proud to say that we have designed this platform with the target group as co-designers. This is essential, because this group does not know how to use computers very well. This makes the platform more accessible than Facebook, for example.’
Ageing does not stop beyond the border
While such a platform is not the main solution for the increasing population of older persons and the need for people to live at home longer, it can make a difference. Nap: ‘These kinds of developments do not stop beyond the border. The development of Palette is therefore an initiative that originates from AAL (Active & Assisted Living), a joint financing programme in which 13 European countries participate. We can learn a lot from each other, for example from developing in co-design and technology.’
The aim of the AAL program is to develop and market innovative, ICT-based solutions for older people and their environment. These are often combinations of products and services that improve the quality of life and enable older people to live independently for as long as possible, even if they suffer from physical or mental limitations.