STAs increase awareness, inform and educate the public on topics related to living in place with the aid of social and technical innovations.
Social, technical and digital innovations enable living in place in ageing societies, yet there is still a great percentage of people who are either sceptical or are simply not aware of solutions available to them.
Senior Technology Advisors (STAs) remove or at least reduce the barriers through peer-to-peer exchange between senior citizen volunteers (STAs) and interested persons. In a demonstration apartment, different commercially available technologies are exhibited and issues such as safety, security, comfort, communication and inclusion are broached. Every Friday, anyone interested is able to visit and tour the apartment fitted with complex and simple solutions, ask questions, inform themselves, try out and experience respective assistive technologies and discuss pros and cons with the STAs. Another factor that reduces the barriers is that the teams are volunteers and not hired by any one specific company or institution. Thus, they convey neutrality and consequently trust.
While the primary stakeholders that benefit from the GP are the potential end users as they are sensitized toward the topic of living in place, other stakeholders include the interested public as well as relevant experts and actors from the political, commercial and scientific realm who benefit from the general knowledge transfer and a more informed and aware public.
A demonstration showroom and a team of approx. 10 volunteers who work in tandems. Moreover, professional coordination (organization/institution) for organising the schedules and training sessions and other useful informational events is required. At this point a 0,5 PM suffices.
Evidence of success
Even though we do not actively advertise the STA services and opening hours, there are regular individual and groups of visitors who would like to get a tour of the demonstration apartment. On average there are 15 visitors per week, which is an indication of effective word-of-mouth marketing and the success of the service: satisfied visitors tell others about their positive experiences.
Recruitment: not easy to find elderly volunteers; Knowledge Transfer: there need to be regular (refresher) trainings to ensure quality flow of information in both directions; Volunteer management is time consuming; Data collection: valuable data and feedback needs to be processed.
Potential for learning or transfer
With the urgent need to sensitize the public towards social and technical innovations for living in place, elderly volunteers are mediators in broaching this seemingly uncomfortable topic.
By removing or lowering the barriers, visitors are able to fundamentally rethink for themselves how to make their living environments more accessible and inclusive. This is a first important step.
The STA service is about end user involvement in the implementation phase as an equal stakeholder/ partner and an important factor for scaling of social and technical innovations.
It would be rather easy to transfer this service to other contexts, provided a space for demonstration and knowledge transfer is available as well as an organization for support (coordination and training). After some training STAs easily become acquainted with the technology, installations and functions.