Better service for elderly people – Global Service Jam 2015 challenge

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The Global Service Jam is a non-profit volunteer event organized by an informal network of service design enthusiasts. The Jam has a staff of none and a budget of nearly nothing. Amazing! I heard about the Jam when I started my MBA studies in Services Innovation and Design Programme at Laurea University of Applied Sciences. And in 2015 I was able to join this inspiring activity!

The secret theme was revealed globally on Friday Feb 27 at 6.30pm (local time)… The ideation began immediately and the theme was.. not known!  See the starting video here. For me it took some time to realize that we don’t actually have a theme. We were divided in groups. Members of each group got empty A4 papers, one for each person. Then you were asked to fold up the paper to 8 segments and to write one challenge to every segment. When that was done, you handed over your ideas to a person next to you. Everyone shared three stars for the ideas on the paper and handed the paper over again to the next person.. That continued until you got your own paper back, and shared three stars to your own ideas. It was possible to give all the stars to one idea, or share the three stars between the eight ideas. Finally, we counted the stars given to each challenge and picked up the ideas with the most of stars. We grouped those ideas and decided what the challenge we want to get grips with is.

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The focus of Global Service Jam this year was on prototyping and a key jam philosophy was “doing, not talking”. Global Service Jam lasted 48 hours and it is a long time to do team work. If we noticed that we are stuck and the planning is not going forward, we took the main philosophy do, not talk into the use again. We concentrated more on doing, and suddenly noticed that our project work started to be productive again.

Our team was interested in studying services available for elderly people in Finland. These days all the services go online and many aged persons don’t know how to use computers. Loneliness is also a growing problem among older people. Personal contacts get limited in this online world.

Our team consisted of four persons. Marja is Finnish, I’m also Finnish. Ecaterina (Cathy) was from Romania and Catherine from Kenya. We decided to study user experiences, so went to Leppävaara Espoo to interview people on the street. Catherine and I were a pair, and Marja and Cathy another pair. We discussed with people about this topic and it was interesting to notice that people were willing to talk – even in Finland, where people don’t normally open up to strangers on the street. This also showed how important this topic was. Younger people talked about their grandparents who need help with online services. Middle-aged people discussed about their parents, and of course we talked with elderly people as well.

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What we learnt: We found out that people over 70 don’t typically use computers, and they don’t even want to learn. Sometimes children and/or grandchildren help but they may live far way. Companies and supervisors (so-called trustees) are not trusteed. Elderly people believed that banks will offer services for them in the future too, but personal services get more expensive all the time. Trustworthy parties are libraries, banks and public service points (yhteispalvelupiste in Finnish). Major problem is that all the gadgets like mobile phones get more technical year by year. Devices get smaller. If you call for example to a health care service number, and an answerphone asks you to press number one and then a # key, that can be difficult if you don’t see well, or you cannot hear well.

We created a persona, Annikki 80 years old, who was a person we wanted to plan for.

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And empathy map helped us to develop a service concept further.

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I want to thank mentors who volunteered to help teams in a service development work. All you needed to do was to press the rubber chicken and the help was there.

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Based on the feedback we received by interviews, we started to plan a new service for elderly people. The idea was to found a Café Safe Haven that provides needed services in a cozy and home-like environment. It would be a place to meet people, to remove loneliness, and to solve every day problems in a secure environment (next to the familiar place like a library). We built a prototype of the café and filmed a customer journey video for our final presentation that took place on Sunday Feb 29.

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The services could be refunded by government or RAY (Finnish Slot Machine Association that does charity). And members could afford to pay a small membership fee with the money they save when they don’t need to pay expensive service fees for banks anymore.

It was educational and also fun to create a totally new service in 48 hours’ timeframe. I definitely courage everyone interested in Services Design to take a chance to participate in next Global Service Jam! It is worth it! Trust me.

Anne Hirvonen, 1st year student in SID program, Laurea University of Applied Sciences

References

Global Service Jam: http://planet.globalservicejam.org/
GovJam: https://www.facebook.com/HelsinkiServiceJam

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