Online co-creation can be successful in technology development

Posthcard is a serious (applied) game that we are developing with partners to support informal carers and professionals in home care for people with dementia. Because of COVID-19, the co-creation sessions with the informal carers took place online for the first time in an international Vilans project. Researcher Nienke Vos: ‘Informal carers experienced recognition and emotion in the situations we created with them.’

The aim of Posthcard is to help district nurses and informal carers practice how to deal with people with dementia, so that their care burden can be reduced. Vos: ‘The game is tailored to the personal situation. Depending on the choices the player makes, the game will develop further. The serious game is combined with a digital environment that our partners are still developing. Informal carers and community nurses will be able to find additional information there.’

Online co-creation due to the corona crisis

Part of the game has already been developed and will be adjusted based on feedback. Another part of the game still needs to be enriched with the experiences of informal carers. Co-creation is therefore very important. But due to corona it was not possible to hold a meeting. Vos: ‘We therefore decided to organise an online session for composing situations with informal carers.’

Creating situations with digital figures

And that turned out to be quite successful. But what key factors contributed to that result? Vos: ‘We have stayed very close to traditional co-creation. Through creating something in small steps in an interactive way, so that everyone is able to react to what arises in those steps. We used the online application Teams, in which we could share our screen with a presentation. Based on the caregivers’ statements, we created situations with digital figures and digital objects and tools from everyday life. ‘

Would you also like to collect experiences of clients and carers through online co-creation?

These are the tips from Vilans researcher Nienke Vos:
1. Choose an online application that sufficiently guarantees privacy and in which you can share your screen.
2. Try to create a one-on-one feeling as much as possible if you want to assemble personal experiences. Online it is extra important to pay close attention to the facial expressions of a client/informal carer. This will be difficult with many participants.
3. Practice in advance. Make sure you prepare well and that all the online tools are within reach. Good to know: There are many websites on the Internet where you can download bundles with images of figures, emoticons and tools, among other things.
4. It works well to make a video call to the client and/or informal carer in advance. This helps especially people who are not used to video calling. You are also then able to resolve any technical defects before the official meeting starts.
5. Make sure the roles are clear before starting the session. This prevents you from having to define these roles during the session. This process is more difficult in an online environment.
6. It works well to check now and then how the client/caregiver is doing. Sharing personal experiences can be emotional, and online you have less insight into someone’s facial expression.

Deliberately opted for a one-on-one setting

Vos: ‘We opted for one-on-one sessions for the online co-creation. One moderator talked to one informal carer. Two researchers worked behind the scenes to compile the necessary images. This was also literally behind the scenes. After introducing themselves, they turned off their cameras and only joined in the conversation when necessary.’

More information due to co-creation

Vos: ‘Informal carers were touched by sharing their story. It really added something to their experience to be shown their situation again. You also require more information from co-creation than with the deployment of questions. For example, because caregivers see the facial expression of such a digital figure, they are more likely to describe how they feel in such a situation.’

Caregiver tactics

Vos: ‘The informal carers realized through this session how much there is actually involved in caring for their loved one. For example, think of something as simple as getting their loved one dressed. This really requires step-by-step preparation, such as placing the items of clothing that have to be put on first at the top. Another tactic that emerged from the sessions is to always make people with early dementia feel that they have something to choose. For example, by saying: “I have to leave soon. Would you rather stay at home or go to the daytime activities? “’

Co-creation for game evaluation

Vilans will continue with the co-creation process in the coming months: ‘Together with partners, we are developing a new prototype of the game. We will also evaluate this prototype with co-creation. In addition, our partners are busy developing the necessary technical parts of the game, including the digital platform.’

About Posthcard

POSTHCARD is an AAL project, a joint financing program that comprises 13 participating countries including Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Romania, Poland and Slovenia. Together, these countries are developing projects to respond in time to demographic developments, with ageing in particular. The aim is to develop innovative, ICT-based solutions for older people and their environment.‘

Want to learn more about Posthcard? Read the interview ‘Informal carers have a great need for reliable information’.

Contact for this project:

Director Strategy and Development