← back to all

Generations is a multi-year social innovation project to develop innovative solutions to reducing social isolation in older New Zealanders.


The challenge 

Social isolation in older people has emerged as a key health and social issue and can have a similar negative impact on the health of older people to that of smoking, high blood pressure or obesity.

The number of New Zealanders aged over 65 is rapidly increasing.  This group of people will live differently and have different expectations of support services than today’s older people. This will have an enormous impact on our health and social care policy, services and programmes. They are already struggling to cope with a greater number of people living longer than ever before, and there is increasing conversation that the way we support older people needs to change.

In September 2017 we made the decision to embark on a five-month plan to initiate the project without external funding. The project is called Generations. 

What are we doing? 

In September 2017 we made the decision to initiate the first phase of the project without external funding. We formed a co-design group, comprised of older people, stakeholders, technical experts and external provocateurs, which plays a critical role in developing and refining solutions.

Since the beginning of 2018 we have been working together through an intensive discovery process to gain a deeper understanding of the challenge of building the social connectedness of older people.

In mid- January 2018, the Generations co-design group came together for an intensive three-day ‘discovery sprint’ with the aim to develop a deeper understanding of what helps older people to live happier, more connected lives and to identify barriers and opportunities to building social connectedness.

Using questions developed following a targeted review of the literature, co-designers spent a day visiting older adults throughout Auckland to learn more about their experiences and perspectives.

In February we gathered again to refine the insights; further define challenges and identify the greatest opportunities to develop solutions that will create change.

 In May 2018 we shared our learning and the opportunities for impact at events in Auckland and Wellington. We are currently looking to formalise partnerships to continue developing the opportunities for impact into specific ideas.

We created 

Generations Website - www.generations.co.nz

A Report Increasing the Social Connectedness of Older People: Insights and Opportunities for Change (May, 2018)

A video - Opportunities for Change

Our impact 

The work that we're doing as part of Generations aims to build the social connectedness of older people and reduce social isolation. The solutions that come out of the process have the opportunity to create lasting positive change for older people's lives.