Expanding Participation at The Parkway Center

Human Centered Design prioritizes talking to and collaborating with the people who are most likely to be affected by a new program or service improvement. Aging By Design project teams work directly with clients to understand issues from their perspective. including how something looks and feels to end users and stakeholders. We take human experiences and the surrounding environment into account. Teams take steps to address a specific problem by building prototypes and gradually/continuously improving services with feedback from clients and community.

Review this post for more information on ideation, prototyping, and testing your proposed solution.

The Parkway Center

The Parkway Center provides a range of programs and services to older adults in Utica, NY and surrounding communities. The project team at The Parkway Center collaborated with clients to redesign membership forms, fee structures, and wellness and recreation listings.

“To have the right point of view, you have to be in their situation. Now that I’m elderly I see things differently than when I was younger. I didn’t worry about the sidewalks, I didn’t worry about transportation. Now that I’m older, those are big important issues that the staff might not think are that important because they don’t have those issues.”

Starting with Prototyping with Forms, Booklets

To kick off their Aging By Design work, staff at The Parkway Center asked their members to redesign their membership renewal form and program information booklet. As one participant described the process:

“Well, we did make a lot of changes to the renewal form and the program book….we made it more legible, we made it larger, we added a few things to it, and we actually made it prettier.”

From a staff member:

“A few of the prototypes they came up with were to address areas of physical limitations as well as financial limitations.”

From a participant:

“I really think that we made the staff more aware of what seniors need, because they’re not seniors…Especially making them aware of the newsletter that goes out. I couldn’t read it! If people can’t read it they’re going to throw it in the garbage.”

To help gather feedback on what they created, the team at Parkway held and open house to showcase the new materials and programming planned for the upcoming year.

One of the key member-informed changes the team made was to reduce the price of a drop-in pass for wellness and recreation programs. Within three months of making the change, use of drop-in passes by nonmembers increased tenfold. This suggests that a small change had a big effect on the reach of The Parkway Center’s recreation programs.

The Parkway Process

Watch this clip to learn more about how how The Parkway Center has been using human-centered design. Older adults, caregivers, and staff at The Parkway Center worked together to document their process, projects, and perspectives.

“We had meetings, and we brought up issues that we thought the community needed. We picked three problems we thought we could fix.”

In their own words…

Listen to the audio clip below and watch the video to hear what participants and staff from The Parkway Center are saying about the approach, and the impact on their lives.

“He was very receptive to going out and getting out just for the day without any end result of going to the doctor or anything bad happening. He got to talk to someone – he lives alone. Made me realize how many lonely people are out there who really need somebody. Hopefully when I get to that age, there will be a person like me who will be out there for me to alleviate my loneliness.”

For more information on Aging By Design, visit agingbydesign.info