Co-Creation Workshops: Understanding the Needs of Frail Older Individuals Across Europe

In the ongoing FLOWER project, co-creation workshops have played a pivotal role in understanding the diverse needs, desires, and challenges faced by frail older individuals and their caregivers. These insightful sessions, organized in each partner country—Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Slovenia—have brought to light valuable perspectives and laid the foundation for meaningful nature-related activities.

In each partner country, three co-creation workshops were carefully organized. These sessions became platforms for open dialogues, bringing together frail older individuals and their caregivers. The goal was simple yet profound: to understand their needs, desires, and challenges in engaging with nature.

Main Findings

ANZIANI E NON SOLO (Emilia Romagna, Italy): The challenges mostly revolved around overcoming physical limitations. Practical, hands-on activities were preferred over theoretical ones. Interestingly, participants showed limited enthusiasm for direct engagement with online resources. Raised gardening spaces and accessible natural environments emerged as practical solutions.

GOUDEN DAGEN (The Netherlands): Active engagement efforts were deemed necessary, considering the vulnerability felt outside the home. While online materials were met with cautious interest, participants emphasized the need for imaginative approaches. The fear of catching cold, falling, or being alone presented barriers, but with practical solutions and fun elements, engagement increased.

Spominčica (Slovenia): The Slovenian sessions revealed a strong interest in nature-based activities combining exercise and socialization. Participants expressed a desire for sensory-stimulating gardens and comprehensive manuals for outdoor activities.

CEOMA (Spain): In Spain, the experiences involving older people in contact with nature were considered satisfactory. Suggestions included courses for integration, a bottom-up approach in development, improved synergies among organizations, and a person-centered approach to activities.

Development Centre of the Heart of Slovenia: In the Heart of Slovenia, we connected with the elderly and their caregivers at the Dom Tisje in Litija. The workshops brought smiles to everyone’s faces, emphasizing the healing power of nature. VR glasses virtually transported them to nature worldwide, creating an inclusive experience even for those with mobility challenges. The positive response encourages us to organize more outdoor workshops in 2024.

Obstacles and Opportunities

While obstacles were identified, such as physical limitations, vulnerability, and dependence on others, the workshops illuminated opportunities. Creative approaches, online materials introduced by caregivers, and tailored solutions were identified as means to overcome barriers.

As we move forward the path to meaningful nature engagement for frail older individuals is clearer, and the FLOWER project continues with a renewed sense of purpose and understanding.

Stay tuned for the next steps in our journey as we transform these insights into impactful tools and resources, fostering nature engagement for the well-being of frail older individuals and their caregivers.