Case study: poMOST – application for the elderly
poMOST (Polish: ‘bridge’ and ‘help’) is an application that aims to connect older people who have problems with small activities with volunteers who would provide them with ad hoc support in specific tasks such as shopping, transport to the doctor, prescriptions, etc.
The app allows seniors to send a request for help with a specific activity. Volunteers see requests in the area they are in thanks to the locating option and have the opportunity to volunteer for a specific task.
The aim of our activities was to test the market need for a product, validate a selected target group and verify whether the elderly are able to use the application in its original form.
Motivation for the creation of this project
The main motivation for the creation of the product was a deep desire of the originator of the application to help the elderly. Our client wanted to create a solution that would support seniors in performing the activities with which they have problems on a daily basis.
Additionally, the aim of the application was to open a group of seniors to young people living in their area and to support neighborly relations.
The product is intended for older people, aged 65 and over, who have access to technology and use devices such as computers and touchscreens on a daily basis.
Target group objectives / Tasks
The target group wants to get help with everyday, small activities
They want to have someone at hand to respond to her requests.
They want to have confidence in the person they’re going to ask for help
They wish to overcome their reluctance to ask for help
- Due to their age, the target group has problems with everyday activities.
- They do not have persons around, whom they can ask for help and turn to with a small problem.
- They have trouble asking for help.
- They have difficulty establishing relationships with younger people.
- They have trouble trusting strangers.
- They struggle with using touch technology/applications
By alternative solutions we mean all the tools, methods of action or behavioral patterns that allow the target group to solve their problem:
- Asking neighbours for help
- Asking family and friends for help
The application provides support for the elderly, giving them the opportunity to get help with minor household chores from another person.
Additionally, it gives an opportunity to meet people from one’s surroundings and establish neighbourly relations. It connects people of different generations and is an excellent introduction to making permanent friendships and exchanging experiences between generations.
The purpose of the experiment
The most critical assumption concerned the existence of a problem for a selected target group, therefore the aim of the experiment was to identify the everyday activities that seniors, who efficiently use technology, have a problem with.
Ideas for the experiment
- Focus studies in a group of older people who are in contact with each other
- Dyads with seniors, where both people are strongly connected (spouses or close friends)
- Individual interviews with seniors
- Shadowing of an older person (observation of his/her everyday life, behaviour)
Individual interviews with the elderly (6 interviews)
1 sprint – 1 week
- Monday – Objective: Action plan and recruitment of individuals for the study:
- Preparation of advertisements encouraging participation in the survey
- Contact with active senior citizens’ associations/universities of the third age
- Preparation of an interview scenario
- Arrangement of appointments with 6 test subjects
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – objective: to conduct interviews with all respondents:
- Conducting interviews
- Friday – objective: analysis of interviews:
- interview analysis
- drawing conclusions
Persons from the selected target group did not indicate any activities with which they face problems on a daily basis. The fact is that, due to their age, older people may have problems with everyday activities such as shopping or going to the post office.
However, a selected group of seniors who use technology on a daily basis:
- is so independent that it does not need additional support and is not interested in asking for help from strangers.
- values their fitness
- wants to help and support the sick and the disabled themselves
Project summary and recommendations
In the course of subsequent experiments, we verified further hypotheses. We checked:
- the test group’s readiness to ask for help
- attitude towards strangers
- difficulties encountered in the use of tactile devices
- ways to use the application.
We have learned that technologically active senior citizens are not willing to ask for help from strangers or even friends or family members. These are people who strongly emphasize their independence, who do not want to allow themselves to think about the fact that one day they will need such help.
There was also an issue relating to the form of the system itself. Even among seniors who use technology, the concept of application does not exist. Seniors did not use such solutions and stressed that using touch phones is inconvenient for them.
They treated the help itself as something mutual, they wanted not only to receive some help, but also to help others.
The acquired knowledge allowed us to recommend the following solutions:
- Change of target group and business model
- Designing a system to reach senior citizens who are in need of care and not familiar with technology, e.g. by means of a special contact telephone number that then redirects the message to the volunteers, or a system where neighbours report a person who needs a volunteer’s help and assistance.
- Testing a mutual-assistance system where both volunteers and senior citizens help and obtain support
- Changing the entry model – older people would have to have someone to help them become familiar with the system and teach them how to use it so that they can apply for help themselves or ask for it.
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