Development and testing of an online community care platform for frail older adults in the Netherlands: a user-centred design

Sarah Willard*, Ger Cremers, Yan Ping Man, Erik van Rossum, Marieke Spreeuwenberg, Luc de Witte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Recent transitions in long-term care in the Netherlands have major consequences for community-dwelling older adults. A new paradigm expects them to manage and arrange their own care and support as much as possible. Technology can support this shift. A study has been conducted to explore the needs of communityd-welling frail older adults with regard to an online platform. An existing platform was subsequently modified, based upon these needs, resulting in an online community care platform (OCC-platform) comprising of care, health, and communication functions. The purpose of this platform was to support frail older adults in their independence and functioning, by stimulating self-care and providing reliable information, products and services. Methods: The study used a User-Centred Design. The development processes involved the following steps: Step 1) Identification of the User Requirements. To assess the user requirements, direct observations (N = 3) and interviews (N = 14) were performed. Step 2) Modification of an Existing Online Platform. Based upon Step 1, available online platforms were explored to determine whether an existing useful product was available. Two companies collaborated in modifying such a platform; Step 3) Testing the Modified Platform. A total of 73 older adults were invited to test a prototype of the OCC-platform during 6 months, which comprised of two phases: (1) a training phase; and (2) a testing phase. Results: An iterative process of modifications resulted in an interactive software concept on a Standard PC, containing 11 Functions. The Functions of 'contacts', 'services' and 'messaging', were by far, the most frequently used. The use was at its highest during the first 2 weeks of the testing and then its use steadily declined. The vast majority of the subjects (94%) were positive about the usability of the platform. Only a minority of the subjects (27%) indicated that the platform had added value for them. Conclusion: The overall prospect was that an OCC-platform can contribute to the social participation and the self-management competencies of frail older adults, together with their social cohesion in the community. In order to validate these prospects, further research is needed on the characteristics and the impact of online platforms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number87
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2018


  • Ageing
  • frailty
  • Community dwelling
  • Care
  • ICT
  • Online community

Cite this