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Humans Like Me

Bring those in latter part of their days together with those also going through the same experience for empathy and understanding

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

Designed around the feeling of lonelyness and "is it just me going through this?" for those come to the end of their days. Instead of linking the older dying people with the young who in truth do not have a large amount in common, this would link up people who are dying who have more in common for a more interested and engaged end-of-life experience. We all have better, deeper and more empathic conversations with those who have been through similar life experiences.

The idea stems from a feeling I got when thinking about older age and my eventual end-of-life experience. Whilst there is a place for the passing on of wisdom and stories to the next generation, I felt that actually I would like to have conversations with those who have been through what I have been through, those who have more in common allowing for more meaningful and empathic interactions. 

Having been close to family members who are isolated during their last days it seemed to me that actually they would have appreciated someone who truely understood, at that moment, what they were going through; not just a well meaning and thoughful younger relative or carer. 

This idea could be executed through mobile technology and a pairing process. Nothing fancy but something that matches you with the best fit. Similar to how dating website would find your personality match.

Speaking to my Grandmother she mentioned it get very lonely as you outlive your generation of friends and those you would naturally have more in common with. Hopefully this could be a step toward reducing that lonely feeling.

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

Working with our local NHS GP and care homes to find those who would qualify and benefit from this service. We could then run a pilot between those physically isolated who have a high potential for personality matching. We would need to create a first hypothesis of how to match people and then define the criteria of success through qualitative and quantitative measure. Build, test, learn...

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

Any builds or constructive criticism welcome

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi James.
Great idea.  I have also noted that as family members age they lose friends over time and it is hard to replace those great relationships.  
Many older people I know have a hard time with mobile technology.  If you plan to engage the NHS local GPs to find folk who would like to be involved in a program like this I wonder if those sites might also function as enrollment centers through the assistance of social workers or volunteers, who might be more adept at using technology?
It will be interesting to see the variety of activities and interests people might list.  My grandmother loved to play penny poker.  She lived in an assisted living facility for many years until passing away at the age of 103.  Lucky for her there was a regular game there!  

Photo of James Alford

Hi Bettina,
Thanks for the build! You're right, anything with mobile tech could be difficult for initial engagement but with the help of social workers / volunteers the enrollment could be made simplier. Yes, it will be great to see what people will list and connect over, hopefully a nice mix of activities that require physical proximity for those more able bodied and also simple video / digital activites for those less mobile. The more low-tech and similer the better would be my hypothesis. Thank you for sharing you grandmothers story - what an age to reach.

Photo of Chris Lee

Hi James,

Taking Bettina's idea one step further, how about making this a tool for social workers or other care givers to find people to connect their clients with instead of being the medium through which the clients directly interact? A bit more like a meetup than a facebook?

Photo of James Alford

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your build on this. I like that perspective on it. The more I have talked to friends around this they bring it down that route too. So it would be a nice blend of utilising a digital tool but for an real-life interaction?

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi James and Chris.
You might be interested in Dov  's idea which is similar in that he is proposing a matchmaking service.   The idea focuses more on actual end of life experience, dying, and your idea seems to focus on a less defined period of time.  Interesting.

Photo of James Alford

Thanks Bettina, will have a look!

Photo of Joanna Spoth

I love this idea, James! Thanks for submitting it. It looks like you're already getting some valuable feedback – be sure to keep the text of your idea updated as your idea evolves. You can even note when the updates are integrated (e.g. "UPDATE 6/13: IN-PERSON + VIRTUAL," then a description). I'm intrigued by Bettina's thinking around activities. If the service paired people with each other, what might the experience look like? Would there be starter questions to get them to start chatting? Would they have regular check-ins? Would they be paired with each other based on their feeling + activities that they love? Excited to see your idea progress!