Help solve the challenge of independent living for the elderly and disabled

Ever wanted to have a crucial role in solving one of our societies most urgent problems? Ever feel like you’re Bruce Willis in Armageddon while stroking the keyboard in your cubicle? It’s possible, especially if you’re interested in the future of health and wellbeing. We as societies have some real problems to solve regarding health, wellbeing and care. 

Nordic Innovation is organizing a challenge competition to find solutions to improve the quality of the independent living of the fragile elderly and disabled. By 2030 the share of the elderly in Nordic countries is expected to rise from the current 25% to 40% of the population. At the same time, between 13 and 21% of the population have some kind of disability. While the need for care and support is rising drastically the resources seem to be getting scarcer and scarcer. This challenge competition aims to gather ideas for solutions from anyone from student groups to start-ups and established companies.

 Nordic Innovation, together with the municipalities of Nordic capitals have opened the registration for competition at  realchallenge.info .

Nordic Innovation, together with the municipalities of Nordic capitals have opened the registration for competition at realchallenge.info.

I had the privilege to be part of the team at Diagonal conducting an ethnographic research project in order to help frame the challenge for the competition and provide background material for it. One of the great things about doing ethnographic research is that you get to be a guest in other peoples’ lives. By listening and observing peoples’ stories you learn a lot. 

We identified some of the main challenges by piecing together the experiences of the people who work with care and of those who need the care in their daily lives. These are presented in the form of personas, which are based on combining findings from different interviews. This is one way of presenting the users through stories, which highlight some of the most important insights in an accessible way.

The competition is open for anyone and I'm hoping to see interesting solutions coming out of it. For us it was a demanding project as we had to frame the challenge that consists of a variety of needs and challenges that different kinds of people face in their everyday lives. It was also important to package the research in an accessible format for a wide variety of potential participants aiming to solve different aspects of the real challenge. The Nordic countries are facing a change which will touch our lives in profound ways and we should prepare for it. Let's hope that some of the outcomes of this competition serve the preparation.