Project Overview

Although growing old is something that awaits those lucky enough to live a long life, for many seniors who are "housed", the lacking sense of social connectedness and agency are slowly stripping away their mental and physical health. With the Silver Tide well upon us, how might we better prepare for and support our population to age in place? 

Aging Well is a UHN OpenLab project funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. It uses design thinking and a lead user approach to uncover innovative, grassroots models of senior supportive living. The goal is to create a set of design principles to guide future policymaking and health planning for Ontario's aging population.


My Role

As the co-project lead of this project, I am responsible for:

  • Planning research methods and strategies

  • Conducting user research and analyzing qualitative data

  • Creating shareable artefacts including use cases and system maps 

  • Editing multimedia content for digital case studies 

  • Creating and designing a website for knowledge translation 

  • Usability testing with website audience 

The Process

Oasis is one of the models captured in Aging Well. Within this Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) is an organically grown supportive service group (SSP). 

We began by conducting an extensive literature review on existing and emerging innovative senior housing options. We decided to include 4 models that best reflect the values of nurturing aging in place: Cohousing, Homesharing, Villages, and Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities. We then searched for example initiatives across Canada and the States, and prepared an environmental scan summary for OTF to communicate our findings. 

Literature Review, Environmental Scan

We narrowed down to a few sites for further exploration. After developing an Interview Guide, we conducted phone interviews with various stakeholders, including seniors themselves, lead agencies, and non-profit and community organizations. We explored the common ingredients for arranging grassroots initiatives: supportive services, infrastructure, costs & funding. We then analyzed our data and began to model the ecosystems. I created some use cases to map out the intricacies of the user experience as well. 

Interviews, Use Cases, & System Maps

We are currently in the process of visiting sites across Canada and the States. By meeting actual users, we can: 

  • Validate our system maps and use cases with them

  • Conduct observations and ethnography to holistically understand their experiences

  • Understand their experience from a user standpoint. Identify pain points and needs, as well as opportunities for intervention 

  • Document multimedia assets for creative knowledge translation 

In-depth User Research: Ethnography

Ultimately, we will be sharing our findings - presented as a guiding design principles - with Ontario policymakers to inspire better health planning for our aging population. We decided to create a website for creative knowledge translation. It will include general information about requirements for planning and developing grassroots living arrangements, case studies for reference, and useful relevant literature and online materials.


I have started on the web design process, putting together the findings we have gathered so far. In addition to making sketches for the website, I also made a preliminary prototype with Wordpress and custom HTML/CSS codes. I will keep updating the website as the project moves forward.

Knowledge Translation: Website Design

Next Steps

After all site visits, we will be analyzing the qualitative data to create a set of design principles. Compiling them with the case studies, I will complete the working prototype. We will bring together Ontario policymakers to present our findings and conduct usability testing on the website. I plan on using DIY walkthrough, heuristic evaluation, and questionnaire techniques to obtain user insights. We will use the feedback for iterative improvements. 

Aging Well

Bringing innovative models of senior supportive living to Ontario

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© 2017 by Cheryl Tsui