Co-housing of Seniors

The main goal of the pilot is to disseminate and popularize the idea of co-creation in Poland. Particular attention is given to the social housing of seniors. The implementation of assumptions developed during the pilot will raise public awareness in this respect and develop new arrangements of co-creation within the local environment.

Pilot actions started during the other half of the year 2019.

Geographic area and target groups
The participating target group of the pilot are seniors from Wroclaw municipality who live in the Popowice district of the city.

Collaborators include Municipality of Wrocław and the Housing Community “Popowice”

Pilot activities

Open Space workshop 28/09/2018: The first meeting was conducted using the Open Space methodology. It was aimed at discovering key needs. It took place in the church hall of Saint. Eugeniusz under the name “Spotkanie Otwarte Popowice” (Meeting Open Popowice). 70 participants and 16 stakeholders attended the meeting. The participants were given full freedom to present topics to the meeting. Altogether, there were 23 issues regarding residence on the estate.

‘Design Thinking’ workshop, 1st  phase: Another series of meetings took place using the Design Thinking methodology. As part of it, three workshop meetings were organized week after week (15th, 22th and 30th of November 2018) in the local neighborhood club “Tęcza” (Rainbow) on the housing estate, in which 35 senior citizens participated. As the subject of the workshop, we chose the communication and information of the estate. Based on the previous meetings it emerged as the biggest need of residents. Acting according to the methodology, the seniors first clarified the problem and decided on its most important issues. Next, the workshop participants developed many solutions, created a base of ideas (108 ideas and 74 associations) and found solutions to their problems. The seniors decided that the best way to solve their problems would be to create a meeting place as a space for shared use on the seniors and other residents of the Popowice estate. Participants of the third meeting collectively selected the features of such a place, its appearance, equipment and functional program. They also created a travel map to and through such a dream place (service user journey).

‘Design Thinking’ workshop 2nd phase 29/02/2019: Qualitative research was used to clarify the problem by the end users and decide of its most important issues. Ideation of possible solutions, developing solutions, developing chosen idea and co-creating the final service. Creating the series of possible business plans and ways to implement.

Summary of the workshops 15/3/2019: Presentation the summary of the workshop and final idea to other community members. Discussing the developed idea with the other residents, gathering a feedback 30-35 senior residents participated the workshops. 

Community Reporting workshops were conducted by People’s Voice Media. They took place on 17–19 of October in the neighboring club “Tęcza” (Rainbow). The workshops were very beneficial; there were many topics and hidden messages from participants. For the older members of the community who remain in the area, maintaining their independence is the key. They want to stay living in the area, in their homes and not be moved into sheltered accommodation. Currently some of the existing infrastructure in the area does not fully support this. They would value a Senior Hub where older people, especially those living on their own, could go for ‘help and support’. Interventions such as these can help to build on the existing social infrastructure in the area.

Research of users’ needs 3/2019–5/2019: Quantitative research about the analysis of needs, verification of previously identified visions and evaluation of the implementation of laboratory assumptions. Surveys in the area of ​​the quality of life of seniors in Popowice. The average age of study participants was almost 73 years. We studied such areas of life as participation in social life; educational and physical activity; sense of security and relationships with the Popowice estate; communication and sources of information about the estate’s life; identification with the estate; knowledge and needs in the field of social services; architectural space and made a general assessment of the quality of life of seniors in Popowice.

Stakeholder round table 20/3/2019: Conscious participation in the project, conscious co-creation of the laboratory. During our round table we introduced the process and the conclusions to the participating stakeholders after which we tried to work out the next steps together, finding the ways for each of the stakeholder to involve into co-creation process of a meeting place. Residents also took part into this meeting.

Interviews, meetings with stakeholders 4–5/2019 – Creating a cooperation network with stakeholders. Involving stakeholders in the implementation of the project.

Stakeholder round table/ The Conversation of Change 7/5/2019: Creating a cooperation network with stakeholders and involving stakeholders in the implementation of the project. Workshop provided the opportunity for 8 stakeholders (other than residents) to tell a short story pertinent to the pilot and discuss their stories to co-create a set of findings and ideas. The topic of the workshop was co-creation of public services in Poland. After the workshop we produced a video with compilation of stakeholders voices.

Educational campaign 4–5/2019: Conducting an educational and pro-turnout campaign before the elections to SMWL Popowice local government. In order to make residents aware of their impact on the estate. The campaign was prepared with substantive help of the Batory Foundation and carried out together with our Community Reporters.

Training for Community Leaders 9/5/2019 on how to run simple Community Reporting activities to aid cocreation/consultation/user engagement. Community Leaders (local NGO’s leaders, which are members of a President’s Dialogue Group about local activation centres) were introduced to the use of Community Reporting techniques as a tool for co-creation.

Group of Social Dialogue in a local activation centre: The group appointed by president of city of Wrocław consist of representatives of Local Activation Centers. It aims to identify the needs of organisations as well as of the residents, create the vision of exemplary place and it’s ways to co-work with local administration. The main purpose of the group is to create the model of cooperation with the municipality. Two representatives of Active Senior participate in the group meetings monthly. Each meeting is organised in adifferent place in the city. Meetings support also benchmarking, the beginning of the meeting agenda is reserved for the presentation of place and the way it works with the community.

WCRS and Wroclaw Senior Card: The Active Senior Foundation joins the municipal Wroclaw Senior Card Project in the field of its access to seniors. The project includes two Wroclaw Senior Cards, silver for 60+ seniors and gold for 75+ seniors. The foundation issued silver senior cards to the residents.

Family Picnic in Popowice, 8/6/2019: Second prototype of service was a Meeting Place made with garden tent and furniture in which lots of attractions took place (cooking workshops, gardening workshops, promotion of social project of monument, attraction for children, sports attractions, redistributing of senior card, information point). The meeting place prototype was part of an annual local picnic organised by a local church in co-operation with local organisations and NGOs. During the event a survey about the ideal meeting place was conducted. The local senior leaders were involved in the process of meeting place preparation and during the picnic.

Meetings with local leaders, June 2019: Workshop summarising the picnic and presentation of the prototype, discussion about next steps and plans of co-creations with other stakeholders.

Social media workshop July 2019: Series of professional workshops for eight senior leaders about how to use social media. The biggest part from the workshops was devoted to providing skills on how to use Facebook, so that every participant finished the full course with his or her own profile and fluent skill of using it (commenting, posting, searching, etc.).

Organisation of a third prototype: The idea of creating the third prototype that would be used during the summer came up from local leaders who wanted to push their conception further. After the consultations with Municipality Department of Social Development which is in charge of open air activity supported by shipping containers as a storage place for equipment, we got an answer that’s there is no free container to put in Popowice.

Second idea was to create a pop-up installation with students from the Department of Architecture and those ideas were developed. We organised a series of individual meetings with our stakeholders to involve them into the third prototype. The local developer decided to support local NGOs and residents financially. The local church gave us permission to put the installation on its lot, as did also the municipality of Wrocław and the management of the local housing associates. Finally, after the negotiations about duties and rules of putting the installation of the piece of land belonging to housing association, we have decided to put the installation there (in green area, which was chosen by local leaders).

The idea of cyclic events around the installation was developed with a wider group of local leaders, which consisted local NGOs. Inclusion of local leaders into action was a breakthrough moment, as they are young and willing to act for the local community.

The installation was created in cooperation with the Department of Architecture of Wrocław University of Technology. The group of students was lead by Active Senior member. The conclusions from all previous phases of the pilot were taken into consideration during the design process. Because of the time, people and resource restrictions, the installation created was quite small, but its main purpose was to became an orientation point and initiator of local activity. The installation had few places to sit down, to lay down, a table, a storage chest, flower pots for urban garden, library for neighbours and shadow shield. It was aesthetic and colourful.

We organised six picnics next to the installation (called the PoPo Centrum). Each of them had a bit different program. Some of the attractions were provided during the events: flea market, neighbour cafe, gardening, barbecue, photography exhibition, soap bubble making, circus workshop, board games, sport games, competition for children, music performances, handcraft workshop, handcraft exhibition, tasting of local products, lottery and more. Local gastronomic businesses also supported the events.

  • 22/7/2019 – Welcoming PoPo Centrum on Popowice (~50 participants)
  • 27/7/2019 – Grand opening (~70 participants)
  • 10/8/2019 – Summer in the City (~80 participants)
  • 24/8/2019 – End of the Holidays (~80 participants)
  • 21/9/2019 – WBO Picnic (~130 participants)
  • 5/10/2019 – Picnic of the Rainbow Club (~40 participants)


Frist crucial step was organising the big launching event of the Polish CoSIE pilot: the Open Space meeting. Every senior from the housing estate was invited. During this event, we managed to find a group of local leaders who were willing to co-create with us in the Laboratory Popowice.

Community Reporting was a helpful tool for us. After the first Community Reporting training, our local leaders became more confident of their role in their society. During the pilot, the involvement of senior leaders in co-creation has become more devoted. However, this has required a lot of work (regular meetings, workshops, phone calls, mails, invitations and organisation of events). In general, keeping in touch regularly is highly important. When communicating with seniors, it is important to inform them by using direct dissemination tools in ways that are more traditional: posters, flyers, newspapers, radio, television, etc. Seniors in Poland are not yet very fluent in using Internet and social media. 

It was a good idea to organise a workshop for seniors about Facebook. It demonstrated the challenges they face when trying to use social media. And this was a group of seniors that uses social media quite regularly. Seniors have challenges in understanding the functions and rules of social media. It is a strange new world for many of them. It is very important to understand the special approach needed when teaching social media usage for seniors.

Creating a service prototype (the summer installation) was a good idea. It served as an initiator for local residential activity and introduced active seniors with younger residents. Creating the installation and organising several summer events empowered the local community and demonstrated possibilities for different ways of integration. It proved that co-creation is possible. Many of stakeholder wanted to join the co-creation processes, which made it possible to build civil society by using co-creation.

During our pilot, the project has transformed from the senior co-housing into development of the meeting place for the neighbourhood. The most important thing seniors pointed out was the multigenerational character of this place. Seniors do not want to be isolated from the rest of the community. Although some actions during the pilot required orientation to senior needs, most of the activities invoved different age groups.

Inclusion of local leaders into the activities of the pilot was a breakthrough (during the 3rd prototype). They have started to co-create with the pilot and spread the information. The local leaders have definitely more influence on residents than the senior leaders have. The new partners have decided to change the name of the idea from Neighbours Meeting Place to PoPo Center. The name suggests the function of the place and localisation. It is also easy and short to remember.

Surprisingly, it was not very difficult to involve citizens into process of co-creation. Involving stakeholders is much harder. For them, it is much more difficult to see their role in co-creation or the benefits of the process.  It is also quite hard to find a suitable time slot from the calendars of several stakeholders in order to organise joint events for them. It is easier to organise individual meetings rather that gather stakeholders to round table meetings or workshops.

Based on our pilot, we are currently working on a handbook of co-creation presenting the processes and the co-creation tools we have used, showing the conclusions as well as the pros and cons of the method. The handbook targets mainly municipality workers and NGOs. We have planned policy round table on which we will launch a wide discussion about senior housing, social housing and possibilities co-creation in these issues. The dialogue bases on our conclusions from the pilot project.

We are already participating in the Group of Social Dialogue that is planning Local Activation Centers for the city of Wroclaw (group founded by the mayor of the city). This regularly meeting group develops the local system of Local Activation Centers in Wroclaw. Our contribution is mainly based on the experiences gained from our co-creation pilot.

On the local level, in Popowice housing estate, we are still in close touch with the local resident organisations. Our aim is to empower them to take the first steps in the realisation of the co-creation program in a leading role. We are also communicating with the local administration and aiming to build closer relations with them.

Learn more form lived experience stories gathered in the Polish CoSIE pilot

CoSIE partners involved
Fundacja Aktywny Senior (Active Senior Foundation)
University of Wrocław

Read more about the pilot from CoSIE Blogs
Co-creation of Senior Co-housing
Who are our Stakeholders and why they are important?
Social Housing Is Like a Yeti

Contact: Anna Janus,