Current project information

As headquarters of SOCIALCARE partner Johanniter Austria, the Johanniter-Center-Nord was the location of our partner meeting in Vienna on the 1st and 2nd of June. During the meeting sessions, recent activities and results of the expert-user tests were discussed thoroughly, while remaining activities have been planned. Technical issues on the agenda included discussion on the status of prototypes and the next steps to be undertaken by defining the main issues and priorities that will lead to a successful start of the Austrian and Dutch end-user pilots after the summer. Our Vienna sessions have resulted in a clear roadmap, including user testing and specifications for the different components. Other items on the agenda were the socio-economic proof of concept, the exploitation and business model, issues on data protection and dissemination activities. Besides our upcoming presence on social media, SOCIALCARE will participate in this year’s AAL Forum in Coimbra, where representatives of NFE and LFTL will arrange an interactive workshop. The meeting in Vienna was our last official SOCIALCARE partner meeting. Many thanks and compliments to our hosting partner Johanniter Austria. This summer will be the summer of fine-tuning and getting our platform operational for the senior end-users in our pilot communities.
During the last few weeks, a lot of testing has been going on to verify our development efforts. In order to allow the end-user partners to test the improvements made by the technical partners, we set up a certain workflow how to easily distribute these updates to everyone’s smartphones and tablets – as well as allow access to the web platform. First of all, the University of Applied Sciences is providing two servers for the web components of Social, Care, Devices and Learn – enabling convenient access to the components using web browsers. One of the servers is used for internal testing by all involved partners, including selected expert users. On this server, there are a few tools installed which help us to coordinate e.g. translations (using Weblate) or data collection details during the Pilot (using the automate toolkit).The second server is only used for the privately held Pilot by the end-user partners – accessible by the participants of said field Pilot. The process for testing the mobile apps on smartphone and tablet works similarly. Thanks to Google’s testing tools integrated directly into the Google Play Store, we can roll out updates directly through the Google Play Store. One – so called Alpha – channel allows us to privately distribute internal updates to only certain users (mainly partner’s employees as well as invited expert users). The second – so called Beta – channel is more open and is being used for the pilots’ participants, where updates are rolled out less often. Internal testing is conducted to make sure that the quality of our SOCIALCARE platform is high enough before asking for feedback from pilots’ participants – who use the platform in a real-life scenario – compared to mostly closed-environment internal testing.
The preparation phase of the first trials. Just a few days to go and the first pilot cycle in the Netherlands and in Austria will start! The schedule of the SOCIALCARE consortium is very tight these days and all partners are kept busy: the technical partners work hard to get the tested prototype in shape. It’s expected that the last refinements of the apps will be finished shortly before the tests start. The social partners, especially those leading the trials, are in the final phase of the preparations: documents like a user manual must be finished, hardware bought and the SOCIALCARE applications set up. In both countries, the participants’ recruitment is almost finished and at this stage the recruited participants must be trained in using the system. In Austria, this will be done in a workshop, following the series of the tablet courses that took place in January and February (see article “Android-Tablet-Workshops with the Elderly successfully done!”, 22/02/2017). In the Netherlands, the participants will be trained in a tandem between a senior and a volunteer student. The volunteer students are already selected and will be trained in the use of the apps. It’s planned that the first pilot cycle will start on 1st April. Firstly, experts will be invited to give their feedback about the apps in usability tests. Afterwards already recruited and trained participants will be asked to use the system in their own environment for 3 weeks with the aim to generate knowledge about usability, functionality and the added value the use of the system brings into their lives. Of course, during this period the consortium will not leave the participants on their own. A first level support will be installed and thereby the participants supported. We are very excited and we keep our fingers crossed for success in this crucial phase!
Two “Android-Tablet Workshops” with a total of 21 elderly participants have been conducted successfully by LIFEtool on the Austrian pilot site. The workshops took place on the 19 January and the 7 February in Bad Zell, a small town in the North-East of Upper Austria. The goal of these workshops was to teach elderly to independently handle the tablet (touch control, gestures, charging). These also included learning how to take photos and to view them, how to browse the Internet or for example view videos on YouTube, read online news or check weather forecasts. Couches also explained the elderly how to write emails or use brain training games. Such a ‘syllabus’ may seem elementary for many young users, but these are real life-changing skills for our elderly participants! The attendees were trained by two experienced and qualified coaches from LIFEtool. They prepared easy to understand training material for those sessions and provided Android tablets for all participants. The feedback was very positive and the learning progress of the group-members was significant – more important they have been very motivated, when learning by doing each step by themselves! Additionally, a “SOCIALCARE” information event took place on the 30th of January in order to get all interested parties informed about the project and its current status. This information event involved 13 participants, inter alia representatives of self-organization model regions respectively organizations (e.g. Zeitbank 55+, Mühlviertler Alm) and other stakeholders. The feedback was very affirmative, but also some critical and reasonable questions emerged regarding the final outcome. Nevertheless, the project-potential was rated high by the stakeholders.
Our final year project meeting in Sevilla on December 20-21th was mainly devoted to taking stock of the situation with a view to next year, in which the end-user pilots of the platform and its mobile devices will take place. On the first meeting day, technical partners presented their working prototypes and discussed the planning for upcoming releases and features, together with the end-user partners. Then the end-user pilots, which will take place in two periods and might contain an extended number of pilot groups, were discussed thoroughly. The day concluded with a discussion of practical technical issues which should be tackled in the coming weeks. The second day was devoted to dissemination, exploitation and business model. Now the pilots get closer, it is important to intensify information sharing with other initiatives even more and start paying attention to exposure through social media. After a successful first AAL business modelling workshop in October in Brussels, it was decided to organize a second workshop in March. Already, some partners are exploring the possibilities of joint exploitation. Many thanks and compliments to our hosting partner ISOIN. All in all, this inspiring two-day meeting showed that again many steps have been taken to get all partners closer and closer to our jointly goal: a social network for citizen empowerment and care support in local communities.
On 4 November 2016, the JOIN Office together with their SOCIALCARE partners from the Netherlands hosted a meeting with representatives of care organisations from the Brussels Capital Region. It is the forth time that care organisations from Brussels came to talk about the progress of the SOCIALCARE project and to give us their valuable feedback. The primary aim of this meeting was to present the latest version of the application with all its components and to discuss together the pilot projects in the Netherlands and Austria. Nina van der Vaart from the National Foundation of the Elderly (NFE) and Marius van Dalen from Eerste Verdieping (EVIC) presented from a very practical angle the setting of two pilots in Putte and Son en Breugel in the Netherlands. Our Brussels partners were particularly curious about the social cohesion aspect of the pilots: they asked what makes these pilots so successful in motivating elderly people to actively use new technologies whereas in Belgian it is rather difficult. A conversation followed on the bottom-up approach of the project and motivational strategies for engaging local neighbourhood communities, which are crucial elements for building up trust and confidence among elderly towards active use of modern technology. The Brussels partners highlighted the comparably lower level of IT skills of the elderly in Belgium as one of the biggest obstacles to the Belgian market. The exchange of ideas which followed has been a valuable input for our consortium allowing us to identify the main challenges for possible future launch of local pilots in Belgium. The participants also discussed how could the SOCIALCARE consortium support in concrete terms the Brussels partners should they decide to launch a small-scale pilot project using the SOCIALCARE app. This meeting was kept in an informal interactive spirit and we believe that the geographical, linguistic and cultural proximity of Belgium to two main SOCIALCARE pilot sites in the Netherlands could help to sparkle a fruitful future cooperation. The next meeting will be announced on due time when results from the new pilots in the Netherlands and Austria will be available and cooperation with Brussels partners will be further discussed.
It is intended that projects funded by the AAL Programme are physically reviewed once – approximately half way through the project. Therefore, the midterm review of the SOCIALCARE project took place on October 6th in the CMU Office in Brussels. The meeting was attended by the CMU-representative, the lead-NCP as well as NCP’s from other agencies involved in the project. And of course by all project partners who arrived in Brussels the day before for the final preparatory work. During a 4 hour review meeting, the performance of the project and possible obstacles that could block the progress and end-result were thoroughly discussed. The first part of the meeting not only focused on end user involvement – with overviews of the mock up series for mobile use resulting from a co-design process with end users – but also on technical aspects by presenting the system architecture and demonstrating the prototypes of all SOCIALCARE components. During this session, priority was set on obtaining a working and fully integrated prototype, both desk top and mobile, for a next round of end-user testing. The second part of the meeting focused on the social innovation process – how to create and support sustainable SOCIALCARE communities – and after that on dissemination and exploitation issues – how to share the project results with other parties and how to bring the SOCIALCARE solution to the market successfully. Our draft business model was discussed in detail – an excellent preparation for the intensive AAL2B Business Model workshop that was planned for the next day, hosted by the JOIN Office in Brussels. During the successful midterm review meeting we received overall positive reactions from the AAL representatives and the mentioned comments resulted in a shortlist of action points for the remaining project period. The next partner meeting will be at ISOIN headquarters in Seville on the 20th and 21th of December and meanwhile we will all keep up our good work on SOCIALCARE.
Iterative user testing on prototypes of the SOCIALCARE platform is a fundamental task in the project. In June, first mock-up tests of a selected component have been performed with end-users and usability experts from LIFEtool (AT) and the National Foundation for the Elderly (NL). Further user tests with the mock-ups of the remaining components is taking place in September 2016. These mock-ups, which have been created for all planned components of the platform, simulate interactive functionality and full navigation. During the user tests, the mock-ups are presented to the users in a controlled lab environment together with usability experts. In parallel, the technical partners of the SOCIALCARE project are working hard on the implementation of a first prototype version of the platform. As part of the iterative evaluation, the high-fidelity prototypes, which can be run on the target devices already, will be tested with end-users, too. In addition to lab tests, we plan to have long-term field tests with analytics tools for the automatic logging of user interactions on their mobile devices in a natural setting. The research group Mobile Interactive Systems of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria developed a tool called
The aim of SOCIALCARE is to support and promote the social innovation process where citizens and older people are taking control of their own wellbeing supporting each other. In order to reach this goal, a new approach to care for older people is developed, which is user centred and at local level, making use of local resources, bringing as a result, a set of guidelines, best practices and technological tools for a sustainable social care network by empowered citizens in local communities that supports older people. Among the different modules that exist in the project, ISOIN will develop the user data monitoring. This module is based on an IoT infrastructure with a device and service plug in system. Its main functions are to track the main care parameters and to manage the different devices and care service suppliers. The first prototype aims to provide first functionalities of the platform. The IoT infrastructure will contain a catalogue of commercial wearables supported by the platform, which can easily include new sensors to monitor the user, based on health and lifestyle information. This information will be depicted to the senior and the care giver making it easier to support care of the senior remotely. It encourage them to keep it active, healthy and help them live independently.
On 24-25 May the consortium of the SOCIALCARE project met for the third time and were hosted by one of the project partners, Atos Wordline Spain, in Barcelona. The agenda was promising and gave an overview of the two-day session that consisted of presentations and discussions of demonstrated results as well as tasks in the (very) near future: Day 1 was a very content-related day, mostly due to the preparation of the upcoming mock up tests in Austria and the Netherlands. The meeting started with the presentation of the developed branding and logo of SOCIALCARE which was met with approval by all partners. The question occurred who will be user of which device and therefore which design is needed – a very important and elementary issue solved by the consortium during the meeting. After this basic discussion each component of the platform was presented and discussed. In the afternoon the consortium was split in two groups: the technical partners discussed in detail - and also with consideration to security and privacy issues - the development and the technical implementation process. In parallel the end user partners talked about the involvement of the social community, the testing procedure and the different situations in the countries, e.g. concerning volunteering, is a factor needed to be taken into account. The short update on the parallel sessions in the morning of Day 2 gave once more an impulse to discuss the wearables that should be integrated. The consortium made a selection of three wearables that could possibly be used in SOCIALCARE based on criteria such as functionalities according to the user requirements, the usefulness for the health care providers as well as the technical implementation possibilities. Day 2 was also used to speak about dissemination activities that were and will be conducted by the partners, SOCIALCARE-exploitation including the first draft of the business model but also about project management issues. Additionally, also the tutorial of the platform that will be provided to the end users as an app was discussed by the partners. In short, the partners have to release a lot of work in the near future, this includes, the choice of the most appropriate wearable, the first prototypes of several components must be finished and tested by with the target group, deliverables must be written and regional communities continuously involved. The next meeting will be held in Brussels in October 2016. It will be a combination of a partner meeting and the projects mid-term review by the European Commission.
In the beginning of June, the first mock-ups of the envisioned care component, running on the smartphone, were ready to be presented to end-users and usability experts from LIFEtool (AUT) and the National Foundation for the Elderly (NL). A mock-up consists of several static pictures that resemble the future user interface of the application. This in as many aspects and details as possible. A first version was designed by Worldline (ES), following a specific material design style guide for colours, font types, icons, images and font sizes. Different interface elements like entry fields, labels and buttons were used and placed in their exact positions. The latter also included the determination of the spacing between user interface elements and their alignment. As a result, a full clickable mock-up version of the basic functionalities of the care component was produced. Experts from LIFEtool and the National Foundation for the Elderly evaluated this first version by doing a heuristic evaluation. This is a walkthrough of basic usage scenarios focusing on approved usability principles such as user control, freedom, consistency, error prevention, aesthetic and minimalistic design. In addition, end-users of the primary target group were invited to test the basic usage scenarios with the mock-up version. These user sessions help the development team to improve the application further and make it elder-user friendly.
On 16 March, the JOIN Office hosted the second SOCIALCARE focus group meeting. The meetings are intended as an exchange platform between care organisations of the Brussels Capital Region and the JOIN Office. These meetings ensure the Brussels perspective is taken into account during the creation of the SOCIALCARE online platform for elderly. The exchange of knowledge and cases therefore enables the JOIN Office to acquire insight into the work of care organisations at the local level. For this particular session our main discussion point was the current map of elderly in Belgium. We spoke of the different trends that are occurring at the local level and how initiatives such as SOCIALCARE could help strengthen the community. As the organisations are present in different communities in Brussels, the meetings also give us an insight into the challenges that the care organisations face due to fragmentation at the regional level. Another aspect that is also apparent is the challenge of outreach due to the diversity of languages spoken in the Belgian Capital. Another aspect that we dwelled upon was the motivational aspect of informal caregivers and volunteers. The basic question for the session was what motivates a person to volunteer? After debating on a number of theories and personal/ professional experiences, we managed to come up with some interesting conclusions. The next focus group meeting is scheduled for June.
Within the framework of WP3 - which is the Social innovation process - different dissemination activities such as events and other community activities are organized in the pilots in order to involve and activate both seniors and volunteers as community members. In the Dutch pilot of Putte, seniors were introduced to tablets with the help of young volunteers from a local elementary school. It was a fun and instructive day. The seniors learned about the potential of the internet and digital tools, while the students learned about volunteering and helping older people. After this initial introduction to the tablet, the seniors will be involved in the co-design process in Putte by testing the first SOCIALCARE mock ups and designs that are due in May of this year.
Linz, 02. February 2016 On 1st and 2nd February all eight partners of the SOCIALCARE project met in Linz to evaluate and further discuss the evolution of the project. The meetings were hosted by Austrian partners, LIFEtool gemeinnütziger GmbH and the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. The two day setting allowed for in-depth discussions and analysis, demonstrations of results and mock-ups, as well as review of new ideas.The first principle of the SOCIALCARE project is to involve end-users in every aspect of the project. Day 1 was user-centered and focused on the information gathered through end-user interviews that were conducted in both the Netherlands and Austria. The interviews took into account the various groups of end-users the project aims to serve. The main objective of this part of the meeting was to analyse the various requirements and interpret these requirements in ways that best serve the end-users.We closed the evening with a social event, which gave us the possibility to have one-on-one discussions amongst the various participants. Day 2 focused of two aspects of the project, technology and the sustainability of the SOCIALCARE platform. The main discussion in terms of technology was the translation of the user-requirements into technological solutions that also take into account important end-user matters such as privacy and ethics. Each aspect of the meeting was introduced by presenting the deliverables as due until the end of January 2016. During the various presentations, the different partners had the opportunity to weigh in on the results and propose solutions to difficulties and hurdles encountered by the presenting partners. The end of each presentation resulted in a structured plan to move forward.The meeting ended in the early evening of 2nd February and was considered a success by all partners.
User involvement in SOCIALCARE: 39 Interviews in the Netherlands and 18 interviews in Austria. January 2016 End-user involvement is one of the key elements of the SOCIALCARE project. End-users are to be involved in all stages of the project. In order to do so the user groups are divided into 6 personas which were created by end-user partners LIFEtool and NFE. The identified user groups are: active seniors, seniors with mild impairments, formal mobile caregivers, informal caregivers, volunteers and relatives. For each group of users interview questionnaires were created, to help the project assess user requirements and user expectations of the SOCIALCARE platform. Based on these questionnaires interviews were conducted in both the Netherlands and Austria in December 2015. For the Netherlands, 19 interviews were held in Son en Breugel and 20 in Putte. In Son en Breugel the interviews were carried out by NFE in cooperation with: foundation ThuisVerbonden, a citizen initiative to facilitate and stimulate community building; regional care-organizations Archipel and ZuidZorg; volunteer organization LEVgroep and the local umbrella organisation of seniors the SeniorenRaad. Four students of Fontys supported us with the interviews in Son en Breugel. In the village of Putte the interviews were carried out by the representatives of the foundation Zorg Coöperatie Putte, a citizen initiative that organises and provides care for all citizens of Putte in need of care. They are very interested in setting up the SOCIALCARE platform for their members. For Austria, 18 interviews were conducted in Linz, the capital of Upper Austria and its surrounding municipalities. LIFEtool was responsible for carrying out the interviews and collaborated with its subcontractor Diakoniewerk Gallneukirchen which runs professional mobile care, voluntary work, as well as assisted living services. The participants provided us with a huge amount of useful information for which we thank them all. The results of the interviews will be used as starting point for the development and implementation of the platform, to be started in January 2016. The PDF Attachment below contains some pictures to give an impression of the interviews with the senior citizens.
On 2 December 2015, we at the JOIN office held an initial SOCIALCARE focus group meeting with our local Brussels partners. The focus group meetings are an essential part of the JOIN tasks within the SOCIALCARE project consortium. SOCIALCARE is aimed at designing a central digital meeting point, where all stakeholders in a local community can come together. The SOCIALCARE community platform makes it possible to exchange offers and demands from people, associations and service providers as well as to organise volunteering work. According to the care need, different functionalities and service providers can be added to the platform.We held two focus group sessions. To accommodate the language diversity in Brussels, we held a Dutch and English speaking session in the morning for our Dutch speaking partners. Lubumbe Van de Velde presented the SOCIALCARE project, after which the participants presented their organisations and held a discussion on current initiatives within elderly care in Brussels. The project was then rated on innovation and acceptance. The afternoon session was held in French and English and consisted of participants from the association of active seniors, Énéo. Joachim Berney presented the SOCIALCARE project and the possible benefits for the end-users. Each participant was able to voice their concerns and or suggestions. Both meetings were a success in bringing together opinions and representatives from both care organisations and primary end-users. Whilst the morning session consisted of representatives from the following organisations: AGE Platform Europe; Brusselse Welzijns –en gezondheidsRaad; Kenniscentrum Woonzorg Brussel and S-Plus Mantelzorg, the afternoon session consisted of a group of active senior citizens from Énéo. In Brussels we aim at assessing the care needs of the elderly in the Brussels-Capital-Region. This will help SOCIALCARE to develop social and technological solutions that meet the requirements of the Brussels end-users by adapting them to the regional specifics. The focus group meetings will be held every 4 months. We hope this will be the start of a long lasting cooperation between the Brussels partners and JOIN.