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Distributed Care Housing Complex

An apartment complex that integrates senior care and family living.

Photo of Sophia Morgan
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

This idea is designed for seniors living in senior care homes as well as their families. The goal is to bring these two parties closer together, lowering the barriers that make it hard to visit our loved ones.

This past weekend, I had the chance to interview my grandfather about his experience living in a senior care home in Shanghai, China as a part of a human-centered design event focused on inter-generational harmony. During our interview, his face absolutely lit up with delight when he talked about all of the people that have come to visit him in his new home. I’d always known this, that people coming to visit is good for him and makes him happy, but I didn't realize just how happy it makes him, and what a difference that can make for someone who feels isolated and alone when living in a care home.

I get it. Whether you’re a busy college student or a working adult, it’s really hard to find the time to visit your grandparents, no matter how much you may want to. An attempt to disrupt the idea of what it means to “visit” someone got me to wonder why the geographical barrier to see your own grandfather has to be so high. Why can’t senior care homes be integrated within the apartment complexes we live in?

The apartment complex would be two-fold: senior care on the bottom floors, and regular family apartments on the floors above. By bringing the care for our elderly back into the places we consider “home,” we are tackling two problems at once. On one hand, we reduce the stigma and hassle around moving into a senior care facility. Our loved ones will just be moving a couple of floors down. On the other hand, we lower the barrier to visiting our loved ones at the end of their lives. Living in close proximity will lead to more accessible and frequent visits to see our loved ones, increasing our time spent with each other when it becomes increasingly important to do so.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Research, research, research. Finding out if seniors would like a system like this. Finding out if families would move into a complex like this. Finding out if infrequent visits is a pain point in others’ families. I would like to perform more in depth interviews to figure out the relevance and implications of this idea to other people, especially seniors, family members, caretakers at senior care facilities, real estate developers, and city leaders. And from there, move on to paper prototyping.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Further exploration on how senior care homes can be improved, holistically and specifically, as well as more ways to bridge the gap between families and their loved ones. Interior, exterior, and facilities design expertise would be very much appreciated!

Tell us about your work experience:

Student at UC Berkeley studying Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, with a focus on Human-Centered Design!

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm


Join the conversation:

Photo of Cheryl

Sophia, keep me updated about your progress. Joanna Spoth noticed our ideas have a bit in common because I'm also working on where we might live and how we maintain lively contact at the end of life (here's the link to mine, I'd love any comments you have:

Best of Luck

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