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Cultivating a supportive culture for older adults

Design Research


Process Design


Human-Centred Design


Program: CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place – Advancing Better Living for Elders)
Role: Human-Centred Designer with MICA's Practice Based Studios team led by Ashley Eberhart
Check out the project brochure.
CAPABLE is a program developed for low-income seniors to safely ‘age in community'. It teams a Registered Nurse, an Occupational Therapist and a Handy Person to address the home environment and use the strengths of the older adults to improve their independence and safety. As new teams adopt this model globally, it was becoming difficult for the founding team to ensure the new adopters fully embrace the program’s core values and principles. We had to identify the existing challenges, devise relevant solutions and set the program up for success
Vihara project
In conversation with the CAPABLE team


How might we promote a supportive culture for older adults that prioritises their autonomy and goals?
Ensure the teams embrace program values such as client-centred intervention
Design ways to smoothly
onboard new affiliates and communicate the CAPABLE story
Create avenues for interdisciplinary team work and collaborative
problem solving 
Preliminary Synthesis to draw research goals after interviewing the founding team


We conducted in-depth interviews of the founding team members to understand their journey, challenges and vision. Through preliminary synthesis, we framed three goals.
Dive deep into the CAPABLE training experience and map the journey of the team members to identify moments of opportunities to ease the new user's transition.
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Understand the different interactions between providers, clients and families and identify ideas for strengthening team relationships.
Focus on ways to tell the CAPABLE story to new audiences while capturing and spreading the core principles, shared traditions and best practices.
Studying value-driven organisations like girl scouts, BLM and YMCA for analogous inspiration


Our research goals directed our methods. We took a closer look at the professional and personal goals, motivations, needs and frustrating moments of RNs, OTs, HPs and CAPABLE clients. We took a step back and studied the onboarding and training process. We analysed organisations and movements that have scaled while retaining their values and goals.
Methods used
  • Contextual inquiry
  • Personas, Journey Maps, Stakeholder Maps
  • Photo-Journaling and AEIOU
  • Fly-on-the Wall for digital training
  • Secondary research to study client feedback 
  • Analogous Inspiration to study value based organisations
Capable Practitioner's Journey Map


Keeping our research goals in mind, we grouped our key insights and data points into themes, which evolved into 'How Might We' (HMW) opportunities.  
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CAPABLE team voting to prioritise opportunities to take forward


Once we had our opportunity areas, we  brainstormed to identify solutions to the opportunities that the CAPABLE team voted to prioritise. 
Our Process

Icebreaker - Think of a bad idea - eg. invisible keys, bitter toothpaste

Set up the context by sharing the Journey map, Stakeholder maps, personas and our process

Voting session -1 for the CAPABLE team to select opportunities they wish to priotize

Brainstorming session using Idea Jar to generate prompts 

Voting session - 2 for the CAPABLE team to select ideas they are excited about

Idea board from the brainstorming session


We developed six prototypes, each an idea addressing our goals. I developed two prototypes that promoted internal relationship building, value-based training and ownership of one's own learning journey. View the prototype iterations and the process in the process journal
A unique peer-to-peer partnership program that facilitates value based learning and exchange of best practices through self-reflective and team exercises. Check out CAPABLE Connect
2. The CAPABLE Book
A supplementary self-reflection tool for CAPABLE Connect partners to navigate their learning journey and acknowledge moments that shine or pose difficulty. Check out the CAPABLE Book.
Card sorting to receive feedback on prototypes at the final share-back 
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