Event report

March 29, 2020

FAB Ideation “Creative ideas to support ageing population” Report

FabCafe Hong Kong Editorial Team

FAB Ideation was hosted at FabCafe Hong Kong on 19 Mar 2020. This is the second time we try this event format, in which we focus on important problems that are particularly relevant to the local society, the environment and global events. This time, we used Design Thinking to delve into the problems facing the ageing population in Hong Kong and find solutions.

Facts about the ageing population in Hong Kong
The share of elderly above 65 years in the Hong Kong total population is growing rapidly from 0.46 million (8.2%) in 1988 to 1.27 million (17.9%) in 2018, and to an estimated 2.44 million (31.9%) in 2038. At present, one elderly is supported by nearly 4 persons (3.93) of working age, but this elderly support ratio will fall to 1.83 in 2038 and further to 1.48 in 2066. This massive growth is mainly caused by Hong Kong having one of the longest life expectancy in the world at 81.9 years for men and 87.6 years for women, combined with one of the lowest fertility rates in the world.

On a societal level, the ageing population will impact the quantity and the quality of the labor force and increase public expenditure on welfare and health. The current supply of subsidized long-term care places for elderly is insufficient and the demand will only increase with more elderly. On an organisational level there are many instances of age discrimination in the workplace and wrong assumptions about the capabilities of different groups of elderly people. And on a personal level, we must ensure that elderly can retain quality of life, autonomy and dignity, have access to social support, and are not feeling isolated or alone.

Empathizing with the elderly in society.
Creating solutions for the ageing population must start with understanding the problem. However, the elderly in society can be divided into many groups depending on age, income, health etc, and there are hundreds of problems facing each group. Therefore, we began the FAB Ideation with an introduction of the problem on a macro-scale and provided a brief persona for the participants to base their discussion on.

Then we spent the majority of the event exploring the problem and empathizing with the elderly person described in the persona, through a series of Design Thinking exercises:

  • Empathy Map: A tried and trusted method for exploring the problem from the individual’s perspective. It is an effective way of expanding on the persona, giving it a personality and emotions.

  • Day in the life of: Another good method for empathizing with the user, by considering every hour of the day what they are doing, thinking and feeling. However, we had difficulty in identifying any real problems with this method, partly due to the persona not being very explicit.
    It is very difficult to find relevant problems to solve, if you do not know your users well. This really underlines how valuable prior qualitative research is for ideation, and well-thought personas to inspire those uninformed participants.

  • Bodystorming: This was very fun and informative. We chose an activity from the previous exercise and acted it out among each other. We didn’t have any script, but simply acted how we imagined the real situation. The exercise helped us to quickly reveal many assumptions and problems.

At this point we had collectively gained a better understanding of the persona we would be designing solutions for. We defined the problem in our own words with a “How Might We” statement, and came up with some creative ideas through individual and group brainstorming. However, we had also learned how little we really understood about the problems they are facing and which aspects that require more research to understand.

At FabCafe we will continue to host FAB Ideation sessions to discuss local challenges and train our Design Thinking skills! Stay tuned for our event announcements on FabCafe website and our Facebook page.


  • FabCafe Hong Kong Editorial Team

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Hong Kong.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
    Contact us

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Hong Kong.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
    Contact us

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