Loneliness among elderly in Utrecht is a big and growing problem. For years, there has been attention for this problem within the city of Utrecht. However, until now this has not lead to the desired results. Therefore, 7Senses and the municipality of Utrecht have started a Participatory Action Research into this theme, looking into the most important aspects for elderly to have a joyful life and co-creating with them and other stakeholders suitable plans to tackle and prevent loneliness.
Details Elderly's Joyful Life Project
This project runs for a longer period of time, intermittantly. We have done interviews and first focus groups to understand the issue and identify potential solutions. Currently, we are awaiting funding in order to be able to continue our project so that elderly, their carers and other stakeholders can co-create and implement the best suitable solutions.
|Project name||Elderly’s joyful Life|
|Start date||October 2017|
|Number of action researchers||2|
Each Participatory Action Research starts from a community issue, addressed by its problem owners at location. As such, we make sure the action research is based on local demand rather than donor demand. Together with these local stakeholders, we design the action research in a way that fits the local context, from the problem framing up to methodology and concept definitions.
- Loneliness among elderly in Utrecht is a big and growing problem.
- 38% of the elderly in Vleuten-De Meern claims to feel lonely now and then (Wijkplan Wijk Vleuten Utrecht Stad, 2016).
- For years, there has been attention for this problem within the city of Utrecht. However, until now this has not lead to the desired results. There are many activities out there for elderly, however elderly and activities do not seem to be able to find each other.
The goal of this action research is to facilitate the co-creation of a Community Action Plan with elderly, their carers and other stakeholders to improve social wellbeing among 65+ year olds.
What art interventions, implemented at a festival, can form a bridge which will make people from the slum feel socially included and empowered?
- Which elements do elderly in Vleuten find most important in their daily lives?
- How satisfied are elderly in Vleuten about each of these most important elements in their daily lives?
- How do elderly in Vleuten describe their ideal day, in which they can be fully satisfied?
- What, according to elderly in Vleuten, is necessary to experience their ideal day?
- What can be done in order to meet these requirements?
Each PAR-project delivers direct outcomes for the local community on the addressed issue: we can share how many people have been reached, what their perspective is on the current and desired situation and what final Community Action Plan (CAP) they have co-created and implemented. In a later stage, local stakeholders will evaluate the impact of the CAP.
In current society, it is more and more expected from citizens to take matters in their own hands, under the label of ‘citizen participation’. However, elderly are used to top-down policies from earlier times. Due to their different upbringing, along with their aging process, it is harder for them to adapt to this new societal structure. More outcomes are described in our report below (in Dutch).
During the action research process, elderly are observed to be more active. They obtained more social contacts and exchanged ideas and advice. Elderly claimed to really enjoy their participation in focus groups and enjoyed seeing each other again. Focus groups in that sense could already on its own contribute to tackling loneliness among elderly as a starting point towards positive change.
Sustainable Development Goals
Ertmer, F., Berest, R. & Eelderink, M. (2018). Rapport Actieonderzoek bij ouderen in Vleuten. Download here (in Dutch).