The impact of HAIRE: A profile from our Cornish pilot site in Feock, UK

Cathy Whitmore, HAIRE’s administrative officer in the Parish of Feock, UK, is a key point of contact for community members. Over the last year, Cathy has spent her time fielding phone calls and organising support for community members throughout the various lockdowns and beyond, and collating points of view from all stakeholders invested in the improvement and development of products and services that aspire to support and enhance the lives of older people – most importantly from older people themselves. HAIRE has offered residents an opportunity to speak up on matters close to their hearts.

The project has provided a sense of purpose, energy, and confidence during a difficult period for those volunteering or working in the community, including businesses, schools and faith groups. The spirit of community has been tested throughout the pandemic; in a previous post discussing the kindness of volunteers at the peak of the covid crisis, 150 volunteers come forward to help their fellow villagers. Because of that, Feock had no difficulties recruiting “HAIRE Enablers” – these are the volunteers who meet with older people to understand their needs and service desires. In fact, there was a 50% over-recruitment of volunteer HAIRE Enablers in the parish, which exceeded all expectations.

A recent interview with volunteer Sue Thomas in Feock featured in our project funder Interreg 2 Seas‘ “Virtual Voyage” online event, which was created for European Cooperation Day on September 21, 2021. Sue joined the project in order to help and support her local community. As part of the HAIRE volunteer preparation process, Sue took part in training sessions designed to provide skills in listening, interviewing, safeguarding and other skills that not only benefit the individual, but the community as a whole. With Interreg showcasing the work of people on the ground all over the 2 Seas area in Europe, we were given a glimpse into Feock volunteers’ achievements. Sue’s interview can be accessed on YouTube here.

Cathy said the project has created a rallying point for key figures in the community – social weavers and influencers. These are people already involved in volunteering, offering and running group activities, and council members, for example – all people who have a vested interested in making the lives of our older people better. To work together on the central theme of healthy ageing will ultimately enable stronger and more linked up solutions. Feock Parish is made up of several communities, and HAIRE has enabled them to envisage themselves as a family of villages within Feock Parish, with similar issues and concerns, rather than separate entities on a scale of importance and status, so that more people can benefit from local initiatives.

HAIRE has given inspiration and motivated fresh personnel to come forward with ideas and offers of support. An intergenerational project has been initiated by a local artist who discovered HAIRE through conversations with the team and they are now putting together plans for a “Memory Shanty Festival.” Older people in the community will share their life stories and unique points of view with schoolchildren, who will work with musicians to produce sea shanties based on real lives in their community. In general, HAIRE has provided people with an opportunity to be creative and innovative – there is “no such thing as a wrong idea”. There is something very powerful in seeing one’s ideas turn into positive action.

The conversations with participants have provided a better understanding of life changes and their impact on a multi-generational level. Ageing impacts us all, not just “older adults”. There is widespread recognition of the danger of a shrinking life world as we age, which puts us at risk of loneliness. Knowing this, it means individuals can start to plan for the future earlier, with the involvement of supporting organisations.

All pilot sites aim to improve the services already in place that have value and link in to them. In Feock, social prescribing’s growing importance and availability means that residents can be signposted to local activities for a range of different reasons, including bereavement, anxiety or loneliness. HAIRE’s volunteers are available “buddy up” with community members depending on their interest – such as swimming, gardening or walking.

The volunteers provide a guiding ‘hand-hold’ to help people discover or return to social activities, developing trust and relationships. The team has created a ‘What’s On’ list and ‘Directory of Groups, Service, and Helplines’ which can be sent to residents, who are later contacted by telephone and given the offer for further advice and support if required in the future. All the activities in the parish are advertised and reviewed on a regular basis in an accessible and inclusive format. They even advertise opportunities in a community phone box.

The CREATE workshops held throughout the summer months brought people together in a safe place to share ideas, voice opinions and feel listened to and respected. HAIRE has been able to respond to comments and requests to make quick wins in the short term with opportunities to grow in the long term.

We are all thankful for the work of the amazing volunteers involved in this project. During June’s National Volunteer Month, service users were asked for any comments they would like to pass on to Feock’s volunteers as well as posting on Facebook pages for anyone who would like to thank a member of the community for their support. A beautiful “thank you tree” was put together by a talented resident and used as a backdrop to the CREATE workshop sessions.

Importantly, the work to look at the relevance of services and the creation of new ones won’t just “stop” when the research comes to an end. The communities involved are developing the sorts of skills and opportunities that can really make a difference and can evolve with the times to ensure an organic, thriving culture of listening and learning for positive, age-friendly action with the voices of residents at the fore.

The HAIRE project involves its stakeholders at regular intervals and in different ways throughout the project as we continue to pursue widespread, sustainable system change and to initiate and support innovative models of service delivery. One element of this is to hold regular steering group meetings, such as the Parish of Feock’s HAIRE Action Group Meeting. This took place in September 2021.

CREATE: New Models of Service Delivery (Spanish Translation)

One of the aims of HAIRE is to develop new models of service delivery for older people. In April and May of this year, we began our CREATE process, a participatory journey for stakeholders to develop social innovations. We wrote about this here in English and French (courtesy of Valentine Naude, our French intern). The university runs a Masters degree in Translation Studies, and as a result we now have this blog in a third language – Spanish! – thanks to student Amanda Ferguson.

CREATE: Nuevos modelos de prestación de servicios para personas mayores

 Ha sido una primavera fría y recia para todos los miembros de la comunidad HAIRE: el Reino Unido registró la temperatura más baja en abril desde 1922. Sin embargo, hoy brilla el sol y nos sentimos más esperanzados mientras nos preparamos para el verano y la apertura de nuestras comunidades. A finales de abril, los colaboradores de HAIRE habían elaborado los primeros borradores de los informes comunitarios de nuestras zonas piloto, que combinan la información obtenida en las conversaciones guiadas, los planes de acción y el análisis de los barrios. Nuestros colaboradores se preparan ahora para nuestro próximo gran reto: crear conjuntamente una prestación de servicios innovadora en los lugares piloto y fuera de ellos que responda a los retos identificados en sus zonas. Algunos retos son exclusivos de los centros piloto y otros se derivan de problemas comunes en la Europa rural.

A lo largo del mes de mayo, los colaboradores han recogido ideas y se han reunido con sus voluntarios, partes interesadas y comunidades de una manera extraordinaria. Por ejemplo, en East Sussex, los facilitadores de HAIRE han salido a pasear con su comunidad, y este acto de hacer que los voluntarios hablen con los miembros de la comunidad realmente los involucra en el proceso de generación de ideas y hace una aportación poderosa y profunda.

Aprovechando su experiencia en el pilotaje de acciones a nivel local, los colaboradores, las personas mayores, los colaboradores locales, los voluntarios y las agencias se reunirán en junio en un taller conjunto CREATE – Crossborder European Activity Testing Exercise (en español: Ejercicio Transfronterizo de Comprobación de la Actividad Europea) para compartir sus experiencias y apoyarse y asesorarse mutuamente. Los colaboradores se organizarán en Grupos de Aprendizaje en Acción, grupos transfronterizos que quieren trabajar juntos en innovaciones compartidas. El aprendizaje en acción es uno de los métodos que utilizan los programas eficaces para ayudar a los participantes a aplicar el aprendizaje en un grupo de apoyo. Este enfoque anima a los colaboradores a darle sentido desde la propia experiencia y apoya un auténtico intercambio transfronterizo de ideas.

También estamos aprovechando los talleres CREATE de junio para “conocernos” más personalmente. Todas las restricciones por el coronavirus han hecho que no hayamos podido viajar ni reunirnos con nuestros homólogos de los distintos países. La interacción con otros tendrá que esperar un poco más, pero hemos integrado un taller de escritura creativa en las sesiones, en el que veremos poemas sobre el envejecimiento en todos nuestros idiomas, nos escucharemos hablar en nuestras lenguas maternas y escribiremos y compartiremos nuestras propias experiencias personales y culturales sobre el envejecimiento. El ambiente de apoyo mutuo, la experiencia compartida y el aprendizaje cultural proporcionarán otra capa de profundidad y comprensión en nuestro intercambio transfronterizo mientras nos dirigimos hacia un cambio positivo para nuestras personas mayores.

Aquí está uno de nuestros poemas elegidos.

Larga vida, escrita por Elaine Feinstein

Finales de verano. El sol brilla. El eucalipto.
Es una fortuna más allá de cualquier merecedor
estar todavía aquí, sin más preocupaciones que las cotidianas,
ordenando plácidamente versos.
Contemplo un palo de canela
atado con rafia, los pinzones
en la hierba, y un arbusto rechoncho
que este año engendró un limón.
Estos días hablo menos de la muerte
que de los misterios de la supervivencia. Ya no
me siento sola, aún no soy frágil, y
después de la operación, reconozco cada respiración
como un milagro. Puede que mi generación no sea
ágil, pero perdónanos,
nos gustaría aguantar, tercamente
satisfechos – incluso mientras envejecemos.

CREATE Juin 2021 – Réflexion

Our French intern, Valentine, has again translated this month’s blog for us into French.  It is a research reflection by Shuks Esmene, our postdoctoral research fellow. To read the original English language version, click here.

A l’occasion des ateliers CREATE, les partenaires du projet HAIRE se sont rassemblés pour discuter de leurs premières idées d’innovations destinées à améliorer le bien-être des séniors dans les sites pilotes. Les outils de recherche utilisés dans le cadre du projet représentent un aspect essentiel de l’apprentissage HAIRE. En particulier, les expériences et les idées de tous les partenaires, y compris des bénévoles et des participants, sont aussi importantes que ces outils le sont pour identifier des actions axées sur la personne et adaptées au milieu qui soient pertinentes à échelle locale.

Notre atelier de poésie a montré que les partenaires de prestation et les équipes de recherche du projet HAIRE sont parvenus à élaborer un environnement favorable à la discussion – même en ces temps troublés ! Les souvenirs de ces personnes âgées avec qui nous avons des liens privilégiés, par exemple des parents, des grands-parents, d’autres membres de la famille et des amis, ont inspiré une séance riche en émotions. Un de nos partenaires a fait remarquer :

« Ce ne sont pas des larmes de tristesse ! »

La remarque ci-dessus concernait un grand-parent défunt et résume la façon dont nos liens avec les personnes qui comptent pour nous s’étendent au-delà de leur présence physique auprès de nous. Bien qu’elles ne fussent qu’une parenthèse parmi les autres activités du projet, les réflexions que nous tirons de telles expériences peuvent aider HAIRE à amorcer des conversations relatives à l’intégration des soins dans nos communautés. Des soins plus approfondis. Des soins qui surpassent les besoins fonctionnels des individus. Ces besoins sont extrêmement importants, bien sûr. Cependant, le bien-être ne se limite pas à la somme des besoins fonctionnels d’un individu.

Les Conversations Guidées du projet HAIRE ont révélé que les activités et les passions qui importent aux participants (marcher, tricoter, lire et se rendre à des marchés locaux, entre autres) leur ont apporté de la joie et, malheureusement, de la tristesse lorsqu’ils n’ont pu s’y adonner pendant la pandémie. Ces conclusions ne sont en aucune façon propres au projet HAIRE, mais elles lui offrent plusieurs possibilités. Le réseau HAIRE, constitué de personnes soudées et attentionnées, va nous permettre de réfléchir différemment à notre façon de procéder face à ces conclusions. Certes, il est important de faire une liste des activités et des passions présentes dans une région, et de s’assurer que ces activités sont proposées à ses habitants, mais il faudrait aussi offrir l’opportunité aux séniors de développer de nouveaux centres d’intérêts et de nouvelles passions – ce serait une façon d’ajouter de la capacité à un lieu donné. La variété des activités et les activités extracurriculaires sont considérées comme une partie fondamentale du développement de l’enfant (1).

Je pense souvent à cette façon que nous avons d’essayer de trouver et de doser un assortiment d’activités spécifiques dont la population adulte puisse bénéficier – plutôt que de nous appliquer à mieux comprendre les modalités du bien-être de chaque individu. Comme nous l’avons dit durant nos discussions sur l’innovation au deuxième jour des ateliers CREATE, cela peut faire la différence d’« être prêt à commencer modestement » afin de produire des innovations qui restent ouvertes aux contributions des habitants – particulièrement si les opinions et points de vue reçoivent une réponse et ne sont pas perdus au fil des démarches administratives. A ce titre, les solutions numériques contribuent largement à améliorer la sensibilisation, mais c’était aussi encourageant de voir des idées se développer lors des ateliers autour des activités en face à face et de la notion d’« aller vers les gens ».

Dans leurs réponses aux Conversations Guidées, les participants ont communiqué l’importance qu’ils attachent aux interactions en face à face et aux évènements de rassemblement convivial. De plus, même si nous l’avons appris par le biais d’anecdotes, nous ne pouvons oublier que les commerçants et les docteurs étaient bien plus profondément intégrés dans les quartiers ruraux par le passé. Les services avaient plus souvent lieu en face à face, et ces expériences doivent être prises en compte lorsque l’on réunit des personnes âgées.

Par ailleurs, des préoccupations primordiales vis-à-vis du profil des participants recrutés jusqu’ici ont été soulevées lors des ateliers CREATE. On considère souvent qu’une méthode de communication qui attire et inclus les groupes vulnérables et marginalisés représente un défi (2). Les communautés inclusives doivent s’assurer que tout le monde sent qu’il ou elle fait partie du lieu dans lequel il ou elle vit, et que l’opportunité d’exprimer ses opinions leur soit donnée de façon à ce que tout le monde puisse contribuer à façonner l’avenir du lieu en question. Parvenir à une compréhension plus inclusive du bien-être représentera un défi important pour le projet HAIRE, et la démarche consistant à « être prêt à commencer modestement » pourra nous être bénéfique dans cette mesure également. La recherche a parfois tendance à se focaliser sur des chiffres et des objectifs à accomplir, tous les deux générés par des groupes larges et soi-disant représentatifs. Toutefois, si nous nous posons des questions essentielles sur les points de vue variés que nous avons recueillis pendant les Conversations Guidées, nous pouvons commencer modestement. Des questions telles que : comment se fait-il que quelqu’un qui s’est occupé des autres, et qui a travaillé dur dans un secteur qui n’est pas généreux économiquement, peut se retrouver dans une position financière précaire plus tard dans sa vie ?, et, que pouvons-nous faire pour impliquer quelqu’un à échelle locale quand cette personne n’a pas pu développer et/ou approfondir des centres d’intérêt à cause d’une enfance ou d’un début de vie d’adulte mouvementés ?

Enfin, la question qui selon moi ressort le plus de nos séances CREATE est :

« Pourquoi sommes-nous, en tant que société, si mauvais à cela ? »

La réponse se trouve peut-être dans une nouvelle conception des soins, une conception selon laquelle les soins seraient reçus et donnés par des individus dans leurs communautés, et ne seraient pas simplement un service dédié à répondre aux besoins fonctionnels des personnes âgées. Fait encourageant, nous avons parfois accompli cela au sein de projet HAIRE – que ce soit entre les chercheurs et les équipes de prestation, entre les équipes de prestation et les bénévoles, et/ou entre les bénévoles et les participants. Notre prochain défi sera de trouver des façons d’impliquer les donneurs de soins dans le projet, sur tous les sites pilotes, plus étroitement encore. J’ai hâte d’affronter ce défi.

Footnotes

1. Metsäpelto, R., & Pulkkinen, L. (2012). Socioemotional Behavior and School Achievement in Relation to Extracurricular Activity Participation in Middle Childhood. Scandinavian Journal Of Educational Research, 56(2), 167-182. doi: 10.1080/00313831.2011.581681

2. Meyer, C., Evans, D., Soucat, A., Dkhimi, F., Akweongo, P., & Kessy, F. et al. (2018). Leaving no one behind? Reaching the informal sector, poor people and marginalised groups with Social Health Protection. Journal Of Poverty And Social Justice. doi: 10.1332/175982718x1536143686739

CREATE Research Reflection: Caring

This month’s blog post is a research reflection penned by Shuks Esmene, our doctoral research fellow.

HAIRE’s CREATE workshops (held June 2021) brought together the partnership to discuss our initial ideas for innovations to improve the wellbeing of local older adults in our pilot sites. The research tools being used in HAIRE are a key part of the
project’s learning. Notably, the experiences and ideas of all project partners,
including volunteers and participants, are as important as these tools in
identifying person-centred and place-based actions that are locally relevant.

Our poetry workshop demonstrated that HAIRE’s delivery partners and
research teams have been able to build a comfortable environment for
discussion – even in these challenging times! Memories of older adults that we
hold special connections to, including parents, grandparents, other family
members and friends, filled the session with emotion. One of our partners
simply remarked, “These are not sad tears!”

Some of the poetry about ageing shared at our CREATE session

The remark above related to a late grandparent and sums up how connections to
people that we value go beyond being in their physical presence. Although a
small moment in HAIRE’s activities, reflections from such experiences can help
HAIRE start conversations around embedding care into communities. A deeper
care. Care that surpasses the functional needs of people. These needs are, of
course, extremely important. However, wellbeing is much more than the sum of
someone’s functional needs.

HAIRE’s Guided Conversations showed how valued activities and passions (walking, knitting, reading and going to local markets, to name a few) provided participants with joy and, unfortunately, sadness due to missing these activities and passions during the pandemic. These findings are in no way unique to HAIRE, but they do present the project with opportunities. The close-knit, caring network of people that HAIRE has engaged can help us to think differently about how we can act on these findings. A record of valued activities and passions in an area, and trying to ensure these activities are offered to locals is important, but opportunities to develop new interests and passions can be seen as a way of adding capacity to a place. Variety and extracurricular activities are regarded as a fundamental part of development in children (1).

I often reflect on why we try to find and measure a set of specific activities that show
benefit when adults are considered – rather than addressing how we can best
understand wellbeing priorities at an individual level. As stated during our
discussions about innovation on the second day of our CREATE workshops,
“…being willing to start small” to achieve innovations that stay open to input
from locals can make a difference – particularly if voices and perspectives are
responded to and not lost in bureaucratic processes. As such, digital solutions
are important in improving outreach, but it was encouraging to see ideas
develop around face-to-face activities and “going to people”.

A French Guided Conversation in action

Face-to-face interactions and events that bring people together were certainly
valued in responses to HAIRE’s Guided Conversations. Additionally, even if
revealed through anecdotes, we cannot overlook how local shop owners and
doctors used to be more deeply embedded in rural neighbourhoods. Services
were more face-to-face and such experiences need to be considered when
bringing older adults together.

Importantly, concerns around the participant profiles engaged by HAIRE so far
were raised at CREATE. Outreach that engages and is inclusive of vulnerable and marginalised groups is often referred to as challenging (2). Inclusive
communities ensure that everyone can feel part of where they live and, through
being able to voice and discuss their opinions, individuals can contribute to
shaping the future of a place. How we achieve more inclusive understandings of
wellbeing will be an important challenge for HAIRE and “…being willing to
start small” can benefit the project here too. Research can tend to focus on
numbers and achieving outcomes that are generated by large, so-called
representative groups. However, if we ask critical questions of the differing
perspectives that we have been able to gather through HAIRE’s Guided
Conversation, we can start small. Questions such as: why can someone that has
cared for others and worked hard in a sector that is not economically
generous end up in a financially precarious position in later life?, and, what
can we do to involve someone locally that has not been able to develop and/or
pursue interests due to a turbulent childhood and early adult life?

Finally, the question that stands out for me the most from our CREATE sessions
was: “Why, as a society, are we so rubbish at this?” The answer may lie in re-thinking care, where care is received and given by individuals in communities and not simply a service that aims to meet the functional needs of older adults. Encouragingly, we have examples in HAIRE where this has been achieved – whether it be between the researchers and delivery teams, between the delivery teams and the volunteers and/or between the volunteers and participants. Our next challenge is to find ways to engage the caring people on the project, across all sites, more closely. I look forward to
working on that challenge.

Footnotes

1. Metsäpelto, R., & Pulkkinen, L. (2012). Socioemotional Behavior and School Achievement in Relation to Extracurricular Activity Participation in Middle Childhood. Scandinavian Journal
 Of Educational Research, 56(2), 167-182. doi: 10.1080/00313831.2011.581681

2. Meyer, C., Evans, D., Soucat, A., Dkhimi, F., Akweongo, P., & Kessy, F. et al. (2018). Leaving no one behind? Reaching the informal sector, poor people and marginalised groups with
 Social Health Protection. Journal Of Poverty And Social Justice. doi: 10.1332/175982718x1536143686739

Shukru Esmene, s.esmene@exeter.ac.uk, University of Exeter

Q-Sorting: A Participatory Method for Innovation Development

In preparation for the CREATE phase of our project – the cross border development of social innovations for older people – our Research Fellow, Shuks Esmene, produced some guidance for partners around alternative methods of approaching idea generation and prioritisation. Below is an explanation of how the Q-Sort approach can be used and adapted in relation to HAIRE and its tools.

An adapted Q-Sort

The Q-Sort approach is part of a larger methodology (Q-Methodology1). Q-Sorts involve participants arranging a set of statements into a grid based on how much they agree and disagree with the statements. Therefore, the approach is more suited for situations where stakeholders can be presented with a set of statements. This approach may be useful for collating stakeholder opinions on what types of innovations would benefit the local area the most.

Note: If you wish to engage stakeholders in a more ‘open’ activity to generate ideas, a different spotlight method (to be released in the coming weeks) may be more appropriate.

i. The participants

Traditionally, individuals carry out Q-Sorts. However, for HAIRE, it may be more appropriate to arrange small groups (around 4 people in each group) to take part in and agree on a Q-Sort. For consistency, you may choose to group stakeholders with common characteristics or those that are working in a similar field to carry out Q-Sorts together.

ii. The statements

Q-Sorts are usually carried out using around 20 to 60 statements. Based on HAIRE’s timeframes and the highly likely remote delivery of the CREATE sessions, it may be best to lead a Q-Sort with around 15-20 statements!

The statements should be easy to understand and, where possible, structured similarly. We recommend using no more than two sentences per statement. See below the examples from our imaginary pilot site, HAIREbridge:

 

The statements chosen for a Q-Sort can be led by the findings of a pilot site’s draft Community Report (these were released at the end of April 2021). However, feasibility is important, e.g., if it is unlikely that you will be able to implement a transport-related innovation / change, we recommend that a transport-related statement is not included for your Q-Sort.

iii. The grid

The grid that is used to help participants sort the statements they are presented with is usually structured as shown below:

The grid shown above may be adapted to reflect the number of statements that are presented to the participants. However, the ‘bell-shaped’ structure (i.e., where there are fewer options at the extremes of the grid compared to the middle) is important. This structure enables participants to make a judgement call (usually through discussion) as to which statements they agree and disagree with the most.

Generally, statements grouped in the categories ranging from -4 to -2 in the example show above are classed as ‘disagree’. The statements placed under -1, 0 and 1 are classed as neutral, and the statements placed under 2, 3 and 4 are classed as ‘agree’. Once more, this is not a strict rule. You may wish to adapt the numbering in your grid to make the Q-Sort easier to conduct with the specific stakeholders you wish to engage.

Note: The section at the bottom right of the image included above, listing the ‘Agree’, ‘Neutral’ and ‘Disagree’ classifications, is used to collate the statement numbers that were assigned to the respective classifications. Remember to label / number the statements you present to participants clearly!

iv. Remote delivery

A remote delivery adaptation of a Q-sort can be relatively easy to implement. A facilitator can run a Q-sort with a small group (up to 4 participants) in a break-out session. A Q-sort grid can be shared on screen and statements (referred to by their numbers) can be collectively assigned to the appropriate places on the grid through discussion. The facilitator can write the relevant statement numbers into the relevant squares of the grid as the participants agree on their position. In such a circumstance, the statements can be sent to participants prior to the session.

1 Further Notes

The Q-Sort approach is part of a larger method known as Q-Methodology. The full method involves collating all scoring grids compiled by all participants. A statistical analysis of the results is then conducted to generate a ‘best-fit’ grid for groups of participants that share certain characteristics. Further, the full method dictates that individual participants produce their own scoring grids.

Given the purpose and timeframes of HAIRE, using only the Q-Sort component of the method can help facilitate group discussions and still generate an understanding of what types of innovations would be most valued in a pilot site. Overall, we hope to build CREATE approaches that are best suited to each pilot site. Each pilot site may choose to use a combination of different participatory tasks in their CREATE activities.

CREATE: New Models of Service Delivery for Older People

(This blog is written in English and French – please scroll to the end for the French language version.)

It’s been a cold and reluctant spring for us all in the HAIRE community: the UK saw the lowest April temperature since 1922. The sun is shining today, however, and we are feeling more hopeful as we get ready for summer and the opening up of our communities. By the end of April, HAIRE partners had compiled the initial Community Report drafts for our pilot areas, which combines information gleaned from Guided Conversations, Action Plans and Neighbourhood Analysis. Our partners are now preparing for our next major challenge: co-creating innovative service delivery in the pilot sites and beyond that respond to the challenges identified in their areas. Some challenges are unique to the pilot sites and some stem from issues that are commonplace in rural Europe.

For the past several weeks, the University of Exeter has been hosting drop-in Teams sessions for all partners to discuss progress and to share participatory methods for innovation and idea generation. We’ve looked at such techniques as mind-mapping and Q-sorting. We’ve discussed key practical considerations, such as tailoring sessions to different audiences and sizes and making sure all the exercises are inclusive. Our colleague Femke Verthé at iDROPS – a Belgian organisation skilled in social innovation development – led sessions on Human Centred Design Thinking, a participatory tool for inspiration, ideation, focusing and prototyping.

Throughout May, partners have been gathering ideas and meeting with their volunteers, stakeholders and communities in unique ways. For example, in East Sussex, the HAIRE enablers have been going on walks with their community, and this act of getting volunteers to talk to the community members really engages them in the idea generation process and makes for powerful, insightful input.

Drawing on their experience of piloting actions locally, the partners, older people, local partners, volunteers and agencies will come together in June in a joint CREATE workshop (Crossborder European Activity Testing Exercise) to share their experiences and support and mentor each other. Partners will organise themselves into Action Learning Sets, cross-border groups that want to work on shared innovations together. Action Learning is one of the methods effective programmes use to help participants apply learning in a support group. This approach encourages partners to make meaning from direct experience and supports genuine cross-border idea exchange.

We are also taking the time during the June CREATE workshops to “get to know each other” more personally. All the Covid restrictions have meant we haven’t been able to travel or meet with our counterparts in different countries. The socialising will have to wait a little longer, but we’ve integrated a creative writing workshop into the sessions, in which we’ll look at poems about ageing in all our languages, listen to each other speak in our native tongues, and write and share our own personal and cultural experiences of ageing. The atmosphere of mutual support, shared experience and cultural learning will provide another layer of depth and understanding in our cross-border exchange as we drive towards positive change for our older people.

Here’s one of our chosen poems.

Long Life, by Elaine Feinstein

Late Summer. Sunshine. The eucalyptus tree.
It is a fortune beyond any deserving
to be still here, with no more than everyday worries,
placidly arranging lines of poetry.

I consider a stick of cinammon
bound in raffia, finches
in the grass, and a stubby bush
which this year mothered a lemon.

These days I speak less of death
than the mysteries of survival. I am
no longer lonely, not yet frail, and
after surgery, recognise each breath

as a miracle. My generation may not be
nimble but, forgive us,
we’d like to hold on, stubbornly
content – even while ageing.

French Translation follows:

Ce fut un printemps frileux pour la communauté HAIRE, le Royaume-Uni ayant connu ses températures les plus basses depuis 1922 pour un mois d’avril. Aujourd’hui cependant, le soleil brille, et l’optimisme est lui aussi au rendez-vous alors que nous nous préparons en vue de l’été et de la réouverture de nos communautés. D’ici la fin du mois d’avril, les partenaires du projet HAIRE auront compilé les versions préliminaires des premiers rapports communautaires de nos sites pilotes, qui cumulent les informations récoltées lors des Conversations Guidées, des Plans d’Actions et des Analyses de Voisinage. Nos partenaires se préparent désormais à affronter notre prochain grand défi : non seulement cocréer une prestation des services innovante au sein de chaque site pilote, mais aussi résoudre les problèmes qu’ils ont distingués dans leur région respective. Certains problèmes sont propres à leur site pilote tandis que d’autres découlent de problèmes répandus en Europe rurale.

Ces dernières semaines, l’Université d’Exeter a animé des séances de discussion ouvertes sur Microsoft Teams, afin que tous les partenaires puissent discuter de l’avancée du projet et partager des méthodes participatives d’innovation et de conception de nouvelles idées. Nous avons testé des techniques comme la carte heuristique ou le Q-sort. Nous avons débattu de sujets clefs d’ordre pratique, par exemple comment adapter les séances à des publics différents et des groupes de tailles différentes, et comment s’assurer que tous les exercices sont inclusifs. Notre collègue Femke Verthé, de la société belge iDROPS – spécialisée dans le développement de l’innovation sociale –, a animé des séances sur le Design Centré sur l’Humain, un outil participatif d’inspiration, d’idéation, de concentration et de prototypage.

Au cours du mois de mai, nos partenaires ont recueilli les idées des uns et des autres et ont rencontré bénévoles, intervenants et communautés par le biais de méthodes uniques. Par exemple, dans le Sussex de l’Est, les Aidants HAIRE font régulièrement des promenades avec les membres de leur communauté. Cette démarche d’échange entre les bénévoles et la communauté les implique réellement dans le processus de conception de nouvelles idées, apportant au projet une contribution percutante et instructive.

Mettant à profit leur expérience pour mener des actions à l’échelle locale, les partenaires, les personnes âgées, les partenaires locaux, les bénévoles et les organismes se réuniront en juin lors d’un atelier CREATE (« Crossborder European Activity Testing Exercise ») commun, afin de partager leurs expériences ainsi que se soutenir et se guider mutuellement. Les partenaires se répartiront dans des « Sets de formation-action », des groupes transnationaux désirant travailler ensemble sur des innovations communes. La formation-action est l’une des méthodes que les programmes efficaces utilisent pour aider les participants à appliquer les notions apprises dans un groupe de soutien. Cette approche encourage les partenaires à trouver du sens dans leurs expériences directes et promeut un véritable échange d’idées à travers les frontières.

Pendant les ateliers CREATE de juin, nous prenons également le temps « d’apprendre à se connaître » de façon plus personnelle. Toutes les restrictions relatives au COVID19 nous ont empêchés de voyager ou de rencontrer nos homologues d’autres pays. Le retour de la vie sociale devra attendre encore un peu, mais nous avons mis en place un atelier de création littéraire parmi les différentes sessions. Cet atelier nous donnera l’occasion de découvrir des poèmes sur le vieillissement dans toutes nos langues, d’écouter les uns et les autres parler dans leur langue maternelle, et d’écrire et de partager notre propre expérience personnelle et culturelle du vieillissement. Cette atmosphère de soutien mutuel, de partage d’expérience et d’apprentissage culturel apportera une nouvelle dimension de profondeur et de compréhension à notre échange transnational, alors que nous avançons vers un changement positif pour nos personnes âgées.

Voici l’un des poèmes que nous avons choisis:

Longue vie, par Elaine Feinstein

 

Fin d’été. Soleil. L’eucalyptus.

C’est une chance que nul ne mérite

d’être encore ici, avec des soucis de tous les jours et rien de plus,

à placidement accorder des vers de poésie.

 

J’examine un bâton de cannelle

enroulé de raphia, des pinsons

sur l’herbe, et le buisson râblé

qui cette année a donné naissance à un citron.

 

Ces temps-ci je parle moins de la mort

que des mystères de la survie. Je ne suis

plus seul, pas encore chétif, et

depuis l’opération, je réalise que chaque souffle

 

Est un miracle. Ma génération n’est peut-être pas

preste mais, pardonnez-nous,

nous voulons tenir bon, obstinément

satisfaits – même en vieillissant.