Union Settlement Report


Published on

Published in: Business, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

Union Settlement Report

  1. 1. Senior Services Project Final Report - June, 2013
  2. 2. Hi! Working as innovation consultants worldwide gives us the opportunity to create profound impact in the society. At Livework we take this mission very seriously and even after such a long time in this activity we keep getting impressed and deeply touched when seeing the result of our strategies becoming reality and improving the way people live and work every day. This project, developed in partnership with Parsons and its students for the Union Settlement Association in East Harlem, New York, was no different and gave us a chance to think even more about how small changes can bring such a tremendous revamp on the way organizations handle their operations and serve their clients. We find that often innovation is not about the big transformation, but the small, incremental ones that happen conscientiously. This document is the result of the collective work of a group of highly motivated future professionals that having understood that, created implementable solutions for the Union Settlement Association. -- Luis Alt and Tennyson Pinheiro Founding-Directors of Livework in Brazil
  3. 3. Introduction About live|work Unlocking the value of service Services go to the heart of the way organizations succeed today and Livework was among the first to understand this. With every project, we work to make the difference for our clients by fulfilling our core belief: that there is a huge opportunity in creating services that customers value. We are neither a traditional consultancy nor a classic design agency. Our work is based on the insight that design for services cannot be just an add-on. To create valuable experiences for customers and organizations, design must be in at the start, integrated with business thinking. We start with listening and observing. By seeing from customers’ perspectives, we gain a systematic understanding of their relationship to services and the world around them. Then we apply the necessary creativity to craft both the details of customer experiences and the stories required to sell a concept. When we founded Livework 12 years ago, we were the first service design company in the world. In the time since then, we are proud to have worked on over 400 projects with both global leaders and exciting start-ups. We have been at the forefront of taking service design into a wide range of industries, from public healthcare to manufacturing. Page 4
  4. 4. Introduction Our Process Our Service Design process is the application of four steps of phases to a project of service development. Insight Ideas Prototypes Delivery Insight into the issues and opportunities through engagement and observation. Develop ideas that respond to the issues and opportunities identified. Quick and effective testing of ideas at a small scale for early learning and improvement Developing successful ideas into scalable solutions. Any service must be based on genuine customer needs, but what people say and what they do are often very different. To find out their real needs it’s essential to observe customers in their natural environments and also get an internal perspective of the challenge being faced by the client. Using the rich starting point provided by insights, we are able to develop many potential solutions to the service. That can be done by involving users and stakeholders, and also by inserting our knowledge of service systems into the challenge being worked on. Before committing to the costly development of a new or improved service, it is necessary to build ‘experience prototypes’, using low fidelity infrastructure. These allow the service to be tested quickly and cheaply with end-users, so the best ideas can be identified and nurtured. To deliver a consistently high-quality service, you have to make sure each step of the customer journey works together and meet their needs. In this final phase, we formalize the strategy, communicating the new service so it can be implemented effectively. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 5
  5. 5. Introduction About Parsons A pioneer in art and design education since its founding in 1896, Parsons has cultivated outstanding artists, designers, scholars, businesspeople, and community leaders for more than a century. Today, when design thinking is increasingly being employed to solve complex global problems, Parsons is leading new approaches to art and design education. The Transdisciplinary Master Emphasizing collaborative design-led research, the MFA Transdisciplinary Design in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons serves as an academic laboratory in New York City for graduate students seeking to define the next phase of design practice globally. The complex problems that confront a networked 24/7 global culture call for broad design approaches. Parsons created the MFA in Transdisciplinary Design for a new generation of designers who want to address pressing social issues using new ideas, tools, and methods. Students work in cross-disciplinary teams, consider issues from multiple perspectives, gain insight from industry leaders, and emerge with a portfolio of projects showcasing design as a process for transforming the way we live in the 21st century. Page 6
  6. 6. Introduction Our Teams Recreation Arts and Culture Maggie Ollove Helena Kjellgren Rashid Owoyele Trips and Transport Health and Exercise Volunteer Services Nutrition Meals Fernanda Alcocer Namkyu Chun Luke Keller Emily Santoro Aly Blenkin Diala Iteif Jennifer Meyer Patrick Schlafer Bridget Sheerin Subodh Divekar Elsa Kaminsky Cristobal Oltra Christopher Patten Bernd Riedel Janet Lobberecht Nelson Lo USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 7
  7. 7. Our work at USA Day 1 Insight On May 5th, 2013 we arrived in New York and started working together on the project locally. After an initial introduction by David Nocenti and Maria Alejandro from Union Settlement Association, Luis Alt and Tennyson Pinheiro from Livework introduced Parson Students into the working process and some tools to be used in the following days. The class of Transdisciplinary Design got divided into 5 groups, each focusing on a specific senior service: health and exercise, nutrition meals, recreation arts and culture, trips and transport and volunteer services. After the briefing, the groups went off to talk to seniors and staff members and get a better understanding of the services provided while trying many services by themselves. Challenge Definition We formed a triad between USA, Parsons and Livework to define the challenge that would be tackled by the project. Among many interesting scenarios, we came to an agreement that the focus should be on ‘Senior Services’. Day 2 Ideas Probes and Preparation Having decided on which service to focus, and after getting more information about USA, its structure and the services provided, we sent Cultural Probes to part of the staff in order to anticipate project needs and plan ahead our 3-day immersion. Page 8 By the second day, some groups were already into the idea phase while many were coming back for more information in the centers. The work was divided between Parsons headquarters and senior centers, being the main objective to gain the best and most accurate insights and transform them in ideas for USA. At the end of each day there was a storytelling session so groups could share learnings and have feedback rounds to better shape their ideas.
  8. 8. Our work at USA Day 3 Prototypes and Presentations What’s next? The last day was about prototyping and adjustment of the solutions. Turning ideas into implementable and well-thought systems for USA. On the last couple of hours, presentations were held to USA staff, therefore ending the local phase of the project. We are eager to hear from what’s reserved for USA in the near future and how the ideas contained in this report are implemented and impact East Harlem’s community. Final Processing and Report After the 3-day project in New York, a team of Service Design experts at Livework listened to the stories and navigated through the raw materials from the projects collected from the students to combine what used to be five initiatives into one well-rounded and compelling book of solutions. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 9
  9. 9. Our work at USA The Initiatives from the Groups Recreation Arts and Culture Trips and Transport The Art of Re-creation Improving Backstage to Enhance Services Inclusion, Feedback and Ownership to empower the services. Better calendars, trip organizations done by seniors and funding. Nothing stopped this group from keeping trips happening. Maggie Ollove, Helena Kjellgren and Rashid Owoyele The group came to a conclusion that seniors are a very diverse group, with different temperaments, personalities, interests, skills and experiences and that they should be able to come at the centers for a lot of different reasons. After seeing from all of the interviews that they also are ‘fearful of change’, the group concluded that there were things to amplify and others to reform in the senior centers. With a mindset that everything is a matter of agency, with different kinds of agencies of different kinds of interests and cultures, the ‘Recreation Arts and Culture’ group realized that there is everyone’s culture but there is also the culture of the center itself. So when incorporating the culture of people it would be a side effect a change to the culture of the center. And something very positive might arise from that. The group went on to work on three different paths: FEEDBACK, INCLUSION and OWNERSHIP, which are everywhere in the solutions. Page 10 Fernanda Alcocer, Namkyu Chun, Luke Keller and Emily Santoro When dealing with the ‘Trips and Transport’ service, the first question that came to mind for the group was “how can we mend a service that is already up and running so smoothly as this one?”. Indeed apparently there was nothing to be improved. But even though the service itself was almost perfect to its customers, some attention points appeared when dealing with the backstage activities prior to the trips itself. How to better organize and share the schedules between staff members and volunteers? How to empower seniors to organize trips and as a consequence lower the workload for staff members and volunteers? How to get some of the trips funded by the destinations? Those questions were successfully answered by the group.
  10. 10. Our work at USA Health and Exercise Aly Blenkin, Diala Iteif, Jennifer Meyer and Patrick Schlafer “What better way to understand health and exercise but getting in there and actually exercising?” -Health and Exercise team during final presentation Approaching Models There are younger seniors and older ones. We should take different approaches to each of those groups. After participating in zumba, jokercise, relaxation and meditation, yoga and bingocise activities and talking to many seniors and teachers, the group concluded that there are actually two profiles of seniors that go to the center: active ones eager to engage in more physical activities and highly motivated and older ones that need to be pushed into activities and pampered by staff and volunteers. Based on this finding, the group developed two different approach models to get seniors in health and exercise activities which we ended up spreading out to the senior center as a whole. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 11
  11. 11. Our work at USA The Initiatives from the Groups Volunteer Services Bridget Sheerin, Subodh Divekar, Elsa Kaminsky and Cristobal Oltra BUILDING A L CU TURE OF GR ATITUDE Creating a culture of gratitude for flexibility and forward thinking in volunteering services at Union Settlement Association. Volunteers are an integral part of the center, having strong connections to the association and their roles. Although most of the time working with a strong sense of purpose and pride, volunteers sometimes might get too attached to specific tasks which can create issues when managing services to best attend the centers. By making their work more visible to staff members and seniors that visit the centers and also turning volunteering into a gaming experience, managers will have more room to create shifts and cycles in volunteers roles, which will in turn make them feeling even more appreciated by everyone. Page 12 “Feeling appreciated and secure in their ability to continue helping is key to the happiness of volunteers.”
  12. 12. Our work at USA Nutrition Meals Christopher Patten, Bernd Riedel, Janet Lobberecht and Nelson Lo Taking the food delivery service to a whole new level. The Meals on Wheels program has been running for a while at Union Settlement Association. It is responsible for delivering over 400 meals at seniors’ homes everyday. During hurricane Sandy it was one of the few services running non-stop, delivering food to those in need. Also, and most importantly, the program is, for some seniors that can’t leave their homes, one of the few chances they have to connect to the world outside everyday. It was based on that last insight that this group developed a series of connecting services, which influenced many of others’ solutions. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 13
  13. 13. Solutions Target Areas Initiatives and ideas got divided into 6 main areas that deal with the senior journey into the center and also with backstage activities. Reaching Out Raising awareness of USA in the local community and also globally through better communications of the value it brings to society and the services it provides. Page 14 Ownership Journey Welcoming In There’s no better experience than feeling taken care of when arriving somewhere new. Sadly, that only happens when there are structured processes to show someone new how to get around. A very thin and almost invisible line divides getting to know something and starting to feel confident about it. At USA, once seniors start making themselves at home, they begin their ownership journey, moving towards a sense of shared property where it is very hard to differentiate the center’s culture to their own.
  14. 14. Solutions Volunteering Volunteers are at the heart of the center’s operations. They deal with people, with staff and sometimes get no ‘love’ from it. Creating a funnier atmosphere for them to work and fostering appreciation for what they do should be on the agenda as soon as possible. Making it Work! Some say ‘there’s no better attack than defense’ and we say ‘there’s no better way to improve services than creating the right conditions in the backstage operations’. Getting Funded Because at the end of the day, someone has to pay the bill, we better think of new ways to show our value to donors as well. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 15
  15. 15. Reaching Out Raising awareness of USA in the local community and also globally through better communications of the value it brings to society and the services it provides. In this section: • Branding of External Agents • East Harlem gets Global • Free Admission Tickets •Be Open and Ready to New Publics Page 17
  16. 16. Solutions Reaching Out Branding of External Agents T-shirts, Stickers and Banners to get the community in the know. Volunteers get around everyday, be it to take seniors somewhere or to get them food. People from ‘El Barrio’ know them, and they also know all the community and the neighborhood’s every little secret. Better brand service evidences is an easy to implement, big opportunity to amplify the presence of the Union Settlement Association, generate awareness about its services (not only senior) and build appreciation for what is being done by the organization. Whether in the food carts volunteers drag along on foot or on the trucks through routes, one thing has to be kept in mind: either we are sending a message to outsiders or loosing the opportunity to do so. By creating an unique, well-rounded message from USA, the neighborhood will begin to see how everything is connected and realize there is something going on. “¡Algo está pasando!” Quick-Win: Meals on Wheels Meals on wheels is already a glue and connection for the community even though people don’t seem to really see it that way. So how do we get those stories about the clients out there to the people? Well, we think that the meal can be a connector to generate stories and distribute them around the neighborhood and also take them online (more on that later). Even before that, meals on wheels should become a visible service. Brand it up! Page 18
  17. 17. Solutions East Harlem gets Global Getting those amazing stories beyond the community limits by taking them online. Free Admission Tickets It’s not about fooling seniors. It’s about getting them in! One of the most surprising discoveries of our work with USA is that quality services are offered for free to the community. Activities and benefits that many people are willing to pay a lot of money, such as yoga classes and transportation services, are offered for small amounts or even for free by the center. But if those offers really are so good, then why are they currently being underused? Because people don’t know about them? Maybe, but also because they don’t know they are good and free. One of the main aspects of the Food for Thought initiative is the storytelling used to connect people from the centers to those that can’t leave their homes. But what if those stories get also global by publishing them on the web? Having a portal showcasing some of the best stories is not only a way to get some very particular and full of emotion narratives from seniors across East Harlem (and hence generating awareness for USA) but also to give back to those storytellers a sense of belonging to the new world. “I think it’s great, when you think of nutrition you don’t think of storytelling.” - David Nocenti It is a two way street that might help to bring more attention to the terrific work being done by USA and also help to get more funding from benefactors that will most certainly relate more to the organization and the community as a whole. Having ‘Free Admission’ tickets distributed around the neighborhood and by current USA clients might be one of the best ways to get the word out and bring more people to the center. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 19
  18. 18. Solutions Be open and ready to new publics East Harlem used be about Italians. Then Hispanics. Now Chinese. Who knows who will come next? Let’s be ready for them! It became clear from our depth interviews with staff members and also by looking around that if someone speaking Chinese or with no knowledge of Spanish or English idioms arrives at any USA center, then it would be hard for them to access the services, or even to understand what the organization is all about. By not having a staff member or volunteer ready to tackle a situation like this means not being able to serve those people. What is worse: we imagine that many immigrants from Asia may actually pass in front of the center and not feel welcomed at all. There are two points on this solution: 1. Think about language capabilities when hiring staff and recruiting volunteers to work at USA. 2. Communicate clearly which languages are spoken at each center, so new people can always come in and feel at home. Page 20 Quick-Fix: Volunteer Exchange Program Establishing a partnership with other community centers all over New York can be a good and smart way to eliminate language barriers. Maybe somewhere else there are some Spanish skills required, while at USA, right now, Chinese and Portuguese could come in handy. The volunteers (or staff members) would have the chance to meet new people and learn new practices while being even more useful and appreciated.
  19. 19. Welcoming In There’s no better experience than feeling taken care of when arriving somewhere new. Sadly, that only happens when there are structured processes to show someone new how to get around. In this section: • First Time Visitor Tour • Easy Codes for Calendars • Activity Take-Aways • Short and Informal Announcements • Small Deed Cards • Food Pals Page 21
  20. 20. Solutions Welcoming In First Time Visitor Tour A guided tour for new visitors to introduce the space and how to find more information about the center’s activities and benefits. Imagine it is your first time in a city. If you know where you should go, then you probably have no idea how to get there. Sometimes you don’t even know what there is to do or visit there. Now that’s what happens every time a new customer gets in contact for the first time with a service. And it’s our obligation to guide him and teach him how to navigate through our service. To make sure that transition between tourist and local happens smoothly there should be a visiting tour, an official introduction to the center, planned and known by staff members, volunteers and even some of the ‘reference’ seniors (see culture champions ahead). During the tour, new seniors could learn about the offers through people or by the environment (think of wall calendars and announcements, USA folders or explanation processes for specific services), which should be done in complement to some other materials that are suggested in this document, such as easy calendars and activity take-aways. It’s always best to feel local and learn your away around. While doing the research, students got toured around in the centers by Brittney, one of the staff members. Maybe that is something worth to be standardized at USA. Page 22
  21. 21. Solutions Easy Codes for Calendars Incorporating information into activities calendars to improve its attractiveness and understanding of what really happens. If calendars could better inform seniors what to expect from each activity and make easier the decision to take some of them, then attendance might raise a little bit. For instance, it has been detected during interviews with some seniors that there are some seniors with higher energy level than others. Through easy and visual codes, every activity could be showcased in calendars with information on the senses that are activated by them, energy levels and requirements for every session. This is a simple measure that could result in a smoother navigation for seniors into the activities, which could enhance the popularity of many services by lowering adoption barriers. Some will relate to them by senses, others by energy level. “people don’t really look at these calendars and they don’t engage with them” - Health & Exercise Group Member There is also the opportunity to address specific publics by targeting some of the activities with special tips in events like ‘this is special for people who suffer from diabetes’ or ‘if you have mobility difficulties, don’t miss the next ... ”. Keep in Mind A prototype of a week calendar incorporating color codes for centers and icons to show which senses are activated in each session. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Much have been suggested in the ideas about the use of walls for communication with seniors. We must take extra care to not turn every wall of the centers into an information center, since too much information sometimes is the same as no information at all. Nonetheless, having more than one way to inform (and not mislead) seniors is good. For instance, calendars in more than one format can be a good solution: large print, leaflets and wall sized versions. Page 23
  22. 22. Solutions Welcoming In Activity Take-Aways Still in synchrony with the color coding for calendars, take-aways might be a useful way to promote and help seniors remember. Instead of taking home a calendar where the attractive activity gets lost in the middle of many that probably don’t fit our schedule or personal taste, small, straight to the point take-aways. Seniors can take it home, hang it on the fridge and don’t forget the date or place to their favorite session. Useful as a reminder and also as a conversation starter for visitors and company at home, take-aways can also be used as invitations handed out by a senior to another, spreading the word about the Union Settlement and its services. Note that this must be an easy to do, template based, as cheap as possible solution. Once done for the first time, then it is only about editing dates, printing and making it available at the centers. Short and Informal Announcements Using popular events as pollinators to promote others If every time a volunteer, external teacher or staff member starts his programmed activity by making a short announcement of another service provided by the center, services could probably be more utilized. The idea is to have a routine for announcements that are done right before activities. Less popular services are promoted in the popular ones. Page 24 Into action ... • Create an occupation versus capacity indicator to see which services and activities should be more announced • Have short cycles of internal follow-up, using internal boards and meetings to suggest which services must be announced and why is that
  23. 23. Solutions Small Deed Cards Starting conversations between strangers through small actions. With several prompts like ‘say hi to someone you may not know very well’ or ‘open the door for someone’, small deed cards are conversation starters that help to promote inclusion and break the existing clicks inside the centers. Useful for recently joined seniors and for settled down ones that think they just don’t feel like meeting new people but once it happens will be really thankful for that. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report As a second stage for the small deed cards, is introducing them into popular activities at the center, such as Bingo. For instance, in the activity space there could be used small action cards, so if this is the bingo size activity that happens perhaps one of the activities is to wave to the person across the room, creating actions in context with the activity being conducted at the moment. Page 25
  24. 24. Solutions Welcoming In Food Pals Establishing a service to enable people that receive food at home to be more integrated to other seniors and intentionally give back. Inspired by pen pal, a relationship most commonly used to practice reading and writing in a foreign language, to learn more about other countries and life-styles and to make friendships, Food Pal is inspired by and attached to the storytelling and sharing service run by the Meals on Wheels program (more on that later). Meal deliverers act as postmen, taking letters from and to the centers to seniors that are at home, which starts to establish new relationships between physically distant people with lots of stories to tell. Paying Back (If Wanted) The fact that seniors can’t leave their homes doesn’t mean they can’t or even don’t want to help USA. During research the ‘Nutrition Meals’ group discovered that seniors that receive meals at home have a ‘give-back’ will, since they are not able to afford the food they take everyday. One way of giving back is done by the use of Gratitude Cards, explained later, but it got us thinking that maybe there are some tasks such as translations, storytelling and problem-solving that those seniors could tackle remotely. Page 26
  25. 25. Ownership Journey A very thin and almost invisible line divides getting to know something and starting to feel confident about it. At USA, once seniors start making themselves at home, they begin their ownership journey, moving towards a sense of shared property where it is very hard to differentiate the center’s culture to their own. In this section: • New Suggestion Box • Feedback Wall • Town Hall Meetings • Task Box • Manager Meeting • Senior Power • Talk About Deeds •Culture Champions • Seniors as Trip Planners Page 27
  26. 26. Solutions Ownership Journey The Feedback Loop Solution: New Suggestion Box If seniors are the eyes of the community centers, so why not allure them to tell us what to do? There is already a suggestion box available but it is difficult to see where it is located. The first step to enable feedback from seniors is replacing the old suggestion box (see below) with a new and more welcoming one that really makes people want to share their thoughts and opinions. And it also should be more visible to seniors. The feedback loop is a solution that seeks to enable the conversation between the seniors and the managers. Suggestions made easy are our first step to enable conversations. This solution has actually already been prototyped around the centers (see a picture of it on page 9) and was very well received by senior members. Feedback Wall Holding accountability for the suggestions made by seniors. Any customer might try the service once. The hardest part is to make him keep coming back for more. A suggestion box is not an object but a service that enables better communication between USA staff members and seniors in favor of the center. In the interviews some of the seniors confessed not feeling confident that anything would happen if they said something, had agreements or give feedback, because in the past very few visible actions were taken after a pronunciation by them. A quick-fix in that sense is to build accountability into the physical space and have a feedback wall where USA can respond to those suggestions visually, and therefore create a feedback loop. Page 28
  27. 27. Solutions Town Hall Meetings Breaking the clicks and creating a strong community feeling at USA. The last step in the Feedback Loop solution is to organize and get to the point where people feel that they are going to be able to participate and be heard in discussions around the center. One way to intervene is introducing a simple and easy voting system using stop light colors (red, yellow and green) so that people can voice their agreement or disagreement with different discussion topics happening in formal meetings or popular activities. In the lunch room this could be a way to break the clicks that usually emerge in there and to make people talk about relevant issues for the center. The frequency is something to keep in mind. Start slow and make minor adjustment on format and topics before making Town Hall Meetings something fundamental for the center. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 29
  28. 28. Solutions Ownership Journey The Ownership Loop Solution: Manager Meeting Instead of a manager feeling that he has to organize or suggest everything, what if the seniors could have more agency over the activities and programs that take place in the centers? The mid-way solution in the Ownership Loop, and next step from the task box, is the “meeting with a manager” feature. It is basically a process where a manager can sit down with seniors and the suggestions on the task box and grab whatever seniors are interested in and have a tutorial on what things could happen to get these tools back, opening up for dialogue with interested seniors. Being transparent and planning with seniors what to do next. Task Box Stop only asking for suggestions, start prompting for actionable things. Often it is easy to make suggestions on what should improve around the centers. The really hard part is to create a plan or know what has to be done in order to implement that suggestion. Enters the Task Box, a place where instead of suggestions, actionable small things that need to happen are given as input. So, for instance, if the men in the pool are missing their pool tools, they can put ‘get pool tools’ in the task box and a suggestion on how to do it as well. Page 30
  29. 29. Solutions Senior Power Task forces organized with seniors to achieve task objectives. Ownership and inclusion has been one of our main targets in the project when seeking to create a positive and welcoming environment at the centers. Empowering seniors to take responsibility for task forces that aim at solving some more complex task box issues could be a way to maximize the engagement between seniors and USA. Imagine if seniors were tasked to do a short term activity to acquire the tools they need, whether with money or any other way. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 31
  30. 30. Solutions Ownership Journey Talk About Deeds Forging shared values through meetings made to define the content that is featured on the Small Deed Cards. Small deed cards is a solution shown in the previous ‘Welcoming in’ section of this document. Now once seniors are more comfortable and used to the center they can get to define which are the deeds used and when. The idea is, before posting and spreading this kind of activities and deeds, having seniors and staff members to talk about what they collectively expect to see and share, which later might culminate in the celebration of shared community values. Culture Champions Focal points in the organization to think and promote special culture-related events both inside and outside the association. Throughout the solutions and later in the approaching model, it is easy to perceive how powerful the combination of roots and role models can be. Just as with any other age, at the center some seniors are reference, taking a leadership role, while others prefer to simply follow the rest. So encouraging seniors as culture champions, and having them as a glue to their own ‘people’ might increase the general sense of belonging and ownership in the center, as long as they take on the responsibility to blend in with other groups as well. More on that on the Culture Model Approach later. Page 32
  31. 31. Solutions Seniors as Trip Planners Having community hubs to help USA organizing destinations and planning ahead senior trips. “Planning, executing and retaining for trips is very difficult”, according to Brittney Narcisse, responsible for developing, coordinating, and supervising community recreation and education programs for senior adults for USA. Now imagine going through the hassle of organizing an entire activity or trip for seniors and not having the right quorum attending because of lack of interest. “I want to get seniors to take different kinds of trips” - Brittney Narcisse But instead of seniors having the center to plan and organize closed trips, what if this responsibility (along with destination picking) could be in charge of a senior that is already a hub for the others? Think of culture champions for trip planning. The result might be a win-win situation for everyone, with improved adherence of the trips and transport service by seniors and more time available for Brittney and her team at Jefferson Senior Center to do other more productive duties. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 33
  32. 32. Volunteering Volunteers are at the heart of the center’s operations. They deal with people, with staff and sometimes get no ‘love’ from it. Creating a funnier atmosphere for them to work and fostering appreciation for what they do should be on the agenda as soon as possible. In this section: • Gamification of Volunteer Jobs •Gratitude Cards • Gratitude Wall • Gratitude Workshops Page 34
  33. 33. Solutions Gamification of Volunteer Jobs Badges and roles system to get people engaged and changing jobs. Much has been said about the importance of volunteering for the center. And that is a very obvious and clear point. The problem is that sometimes volunteering might become a little more than that when people start to consider their roles as something that nobody can take away from them. Alright, it’s nice having people identified with what they do, and with a sense of purpose, but sometimes there’s an extra hand needed somewhere else or even this strong connection to their role might go into the dark side, becoming an exclusion tool to keep away unwanted people. So, in order to change the status quo, the solution is to promote a job rotation initiative powered by games. Through the use of medals, badges, charts and other game strategies, it might become convincing to tell volunteers how nice might be to change airs from time to time. Perhaps a new opportunity to become a multi-tasker volunteer on the board of acknowledgment? Alongside, and in symbiosis with the Gratitude Initiative (next page), the gamification of volunteer jobs will also turn itself into a great tool to recruit new people, making it fun to get to know USA and help the organization. Keep in mind when implementing, that even being the sole purpose of this solution is to promote changing roles in order to eliminate internal clicks in the association, fixed roles should also be gamified and promoted if required (ex. chef for meals). USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Mobile applications like foursquare (picture) gamified the going out experience while Nike+ raised the competitiveness and the fun side of running for amateurs. Page 35
  34. 34. Solutions Volunteering The Gratitude Initiative What drives volunteers is feeling appreciated and the sense or ability to move others. But that can be a two sided coin when it comes to volunteering work in the senior centers. Enters the gratitude initiative. Gratitude Cards Showing appreciation for small acts that mean a lot. Volunteers are a priceless help to Union Settlement. Without them, much of what happens simply wouldn’t be possible. And although what drives them is the feeling of being appreciated, there are two sides to that coin. For one, they have a very strong association to their roles and routine at the centers, which is good and keep them wanting to come back to help. The down side of it is that the attachment is so big that there is a constant fear of change, so besides of not letting go of an specific task, they keep wanting to do it the same way they ever did, creating a kind of barrier to USA. Based on the opportunity to create a new culture, gratitude cards play a central role and are the basis of the gratitude initiative by being the main evidence that sticks it all together. Those are cards that can be written down with nice messages of appreciation for something done by volunteers. They often don’t see how much they are appreciated and also, how much other volunteers (with other roles) are as well. Externalizing the feeling of appreciation and making it visible to the whole center might be just the small but powerful element that was missing when thinking about creating a culture of volunteering. Page 36 Gratitude Wall The gratitude wall is where the cards are placed and made visible to everyone at the centers. Having those cards written, sent to volunteers and read by them could work but wouldn’t be as powerful as showing everyone what is happening around. On top of creating a nice atmosphere, those cards might actually enable a feeling of peer-to-peer admiration between volunteers and a healthy competition to do better or meet and please new people from the center. Cards don’t necessary have to come from seniors, but also from colleagues and staff members. There should be no rules to stop people from showing appreciation towards someone. A last and most important side effect: seniors might just want to start volunteering and getting this kind of love themselves after seeing the gratitude wall, turning volunteering services more appealing to them or anyone that enters the centers and gets right in front of one of these walls.
  35. 35. Solutions Gratitude Workshops Taking gratitude further into the organization Gratitude cards might just become one of the most powerful means of storytelling and fact-registering inside USA. The idea behind Gratitude Workshops is to take a discussion that started on a paper and move it forward, finding out what can be done from what has been said. This workshop can happen once a month, or every time the wall is too filled with cards. The cards are taken out, and read to the participants, seeking for actions or just powerfully promoting a culture of gratitude for volunteers. As a side effect this workshops might be, alongside with the suggestion box and the task box solutions a good way to feed the organization on what is currently happening, but most importantly, having volunteers feeling more appreciated and empowered will benefit staff, clearing their time and making it easier for them to implement job rotation and the gamification of roles. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 37
  36. 36. Making it Work Some say ‘there’s no better attack than defense’ and we say ‘there’s no better way to improve services than creating the right conditions in the backstage operations’. In this section: • Shared Calendars for Trips and Transport • Activity Calendar and Job Picker • Approaching Models • The Culture Model • The Bingo Model Page 38
  37. 37. Solutions Shared Calendars for Trips and Transport The Existing scheduling system isn’t communicated as efficiently as it could be, which ends up getting in the way for planning trips. The group in charge of trips and transport did an extensive research on the service and found out that, although the service itself runs very smoothly, it could be a lot optimized in the backstage mainly if the use of digital and, most importantly, shared calendars were to be implemented in the organization. That would end up freeing up time for both drivers and staff members to generate more value to the center in other activities. Right now there are currently two calendars being used to plan trips. One by Brittney and her team, responsible for scheduling events and the second one by Wesley to organize pick-up and transportation events. Each calendar is very different and personal, so they both have to sit together to discuss about what can and will happen and when, which takes a lot of time from them. Now if both of them had the possibility to access the same calendar and when changes are made by one, it got reflected to the other, then alignment meetings would be less frequent and wouldn’t take as much time as right now. Sharing a calendar digitally is one way to go, specially given the factor that there are multiple centers. Training staff and volunteers in the new platform could be as simple as getting in contact with other institutions and partnering up. Students did some research while in East Harlem and there are schools and organizations nearby with just the right profile to help. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 39
  38. 38. Solutions Making it Work Activity Calendars and Job Picker Helping staff members and volunteers to find the right jobs. The Gratitude Initiative also picked up the need to embrace calendars to empower volunteer work. In this case, it is about coding it according to the requirements for every activity and event (creating groups) in order to use it as a tool to start conversation with volunteers and senior volunteers. They could use it to add jobs or take away jobs and to flexibly assign roles. Enabling volunteers to really see the possibilities can make it easier to tear down the barrier of competing for job between them. A smart coded calendar can also put volunteers in place to help identifying holes in the programs or where they could be better utilized by the Union Settlement Association. Page 40
  39. 39. Solutions Approaching Models Two models to frame how to get seniors engaged in the center. Using the lens of Health and Exercise programs, and by actually participating in many of the activities available, a clear observation came through: there are two basic factors that dictate the way seniors interact with the center and which activities they choose to take part in, energy level and cultural motivation. Energy level basically indicates the amount of energy and movement or ability that each senior demonstrates, which specifically in exercising programs dictates what they do. Cultural motivation is the connection of the activity, any activity, to their background. If it’s more connected, they are more likely to feel motivated and participate than if it’s not. There is also an apparent division right now between younger seniors and older ones, being the first more active and motivated, excited to go to the centers and help the instructors while the later are more inclined toward relaxation, lunch and bingo activities. With that in mind, and considering that men almost never get involved in activities at all (and prefer to rather stay in the pool room), two approach strategies were created to motivate and convince all seniors to join in activities. The first model, called The Culture Model, is for highly motivated seniors (average age of 60) and the other, The Bingo Model, for the seniors averaging 75 years. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 41
  40. 40. Solutions Making it Work The Culture Model Social Capital Peer-to-Peer Leadership Having key seniors as agents for the classes to engage other seniors The culture model uses key ‘younger’ seniors as agents for the classes. They organize the activities, pass the sign up sheets and make other seniors to sign up and donate money. They are also responsible for the communication of the classes by sending text messages or putting posters on the centers’ walls. After class, senior leadership encourages people and make sure they will come back - making it clear that what just happened is not only an intervention but a continuous movement. Partnership (school and hospital) Instructor The instructors are recruited from schools or hospitals (where their students must have internships) and are supported by the seniors. Explaining and categorizing the energy level of the activities is very important in this model, since there are multiple levels of effort that should be communicated. Page 42 Instructor Sign-up Sheet to other buildings and phone messages
  41. 41. Solutions The Bingo Model Formalizing and taking advantage of the current model of engagement. Some seniors can have low motivation when getting out of their daily routine. The Bingo Model was created to target those ‘older’ seniors, where instead of having the seniors working to establish and run the model, we must go towards them in order to communicate and get their involvement. Timing is very important and one of the main findings is that there is a sweet spot between lunch and bingo time, because bingo is so popular at the centers (hence the name of the model). The bingo model is based on a current practice that has not been formalized, where teachers rebrand their classes to seem more effortless and appeal more to those public and make announcements in the sweet spot using the energy levels and sensorial solutions mentioned previously in this report. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Go To Energy Level Matching Partnership (school and hospital) + Payroll Instructor Ask for Nothing Timing and Scheduling SWEET SPOT in any way Naming Page 43
  42. 42. Fundraising Because at the end of the day, someone has to pay the bill, we better think of new ways to show our value to donors as well. In this section: • Getting Stories Out! • Destination Subsidies Page 44 Tip! Filled cards can be available at fund raising events.
  43. 43. Solutions Getting the stories out! Taking advantage of what is real and happening at USA “Thank you for that 30 seconds of the video, because even though I work here, I never see that” There is nothing more valuable than strong, real, purposeful stories. Nothing persuades better than a well told report that is simple, concrete and emotional. If initiatives that are spread throughout this document are used in favor of fundraising through storytelling, then people will see the great value that the Union Settlement Association brings to East Harlem’s local community. As a sample of how powerful a story like this might be, one of the groups recorded a video of the Meals on Wheels program which we thought might be interesting to influence the official videos ... - Staff member during groups’ final presentation Password Protected Video Use the QR-Code on the side to see a video shot by the students while in field research or log-in to http://vimeo.com/livework/foodforthought. USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 45
  44. 44. Solutions Fundraising Destination Subsidies Finding destination partners that can help to take certain related trips off the paper. Establishing partnership with another organizations might be a good way to get funds to achieve goals or accomplish tasks. A concrete solution related to that came from the Trips and Transport team that thought of lowering trips costs or even making them entirely costfree just by sitting down and talking to representatives of popular destinations that seniors want to go to. In this solution, both seniors and staff members could approach organizations related to interesting trips and see if there is something to trade as a way to pay for their visit. For instance, if seniors want to go to a specific park, one way might be to have them doing some kind of gardening work while there as well, which could even become a therapy like activity. If seniors ask so much to take Walmart trips, maybe the main interested in having people there is actually the company and it could be up to them to subside traveling costs after all. Partnership might be a great way to avoid seniors having to pay out of their pockets to get admission to certain destinations. Page 46
  45. 45. Solutions USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Page 47
  46. 46. Ending Notes Links and Other Informations Page 48
  47. 47. Ending Notes Project Credits Project Leaders Luis Alt - Founding-Director luis@liveworkstudio.com.br Tennyson Pinheiro - Founding-Director tennyson@liveworkstudio.com.br Visual Identity André Vicente - Head of Visual Strategy andre@liveworkstudio.com.br Content Processing Gustavo Bittencourt - Project Lead gustavo@liveworkstudio.com.br João Belmont - Chief Creative Officer joao@liveworkstudio.com.br USA Senior Services Project - Final Report Project Coordination Eduardo Staszowski - Director Parsons DESIS Lab staszowe@newschool.edu Local Assistant Aaron Cansler -- Research Assistant, Parsons DESIS Lab + USA Staff and Parsons Students Page 49