Engaging the community to care for the elderly

  • Case A volunteer service for social care
  • Show more info
  • Client Kristiansund Municipality
  • Industry Healthcare
  • Capabilities Service Design
Rokilde Header

How can a nursing home care for its residents’ emotional well-being, when their staff are so busy that even basic medical care can be a struggle? Designit partnered with Rokilde nursing home in Norway to facilitate more ‘active aging’ for their residents, with a volunteer service that engages the local community, and ensures social care for the elderly.

Many of the residents say that they are truly touched by the connection they experience with their buddy, and that they choose to spend their time to hang out with them. The buddies also appreciate their new friendship, acknowledging the value they gain from getting to know their new elderly friend and learn about their life experiences. Director of Rokilde nursing home, Stephanie Helland


The user-centered and collaborative nature of the design process ensured a service that truly met the needs and wants of the residents, staff and volunteers. A key finding for this project was that, as we age, we gradually lose the context of work, life, neighbors, friends and family. Based on this key insight and residents’ needs, we co-created a new servic­e with the volunteers and staff, securing ownership and their dedication to realizing and implementing the service.


This volunteer service engages ‘buddies’ from the local community, allowing the nursing home to deliver individual social care. Each buddy is carefully selected for the resident, matching individuals that share the same interests in life. A buddy can reduce loneliness by simply engaging in conversation, going for walks and encouraging participation in organized social activities. With this new service, the resident has a committed friend visiting every week, resulting in a meaningful and richer everyday life for both buddy and resident.

This is great! We see how important this is for our residents. In addition it eases our conscience in a busy workday. Employee Ingrid
What a great guy! Imagine that this young fellow wants to visit an old lady like me. I’m looking forward to the next time! Resident Liv


Piloted in fall 2014, the service proved to be an immediate success, and was scaled to all the nursing homes in Kristiansund municipality, Norway. The service generated over 800 visits in the first year, and now buddies are regularly visiting the seniors in nursing homes across Kristiansund.


Norwegian ‘Award for Design Excellence’ and an Honorary Award nomination, Design and Architecture Norway 2016, and finalist for the Global Service Design Award (SDN) 2015

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