This project is focusing on ageing issue and especially targeting seniors living alone who are more exposed to loneliness and a lack of social support. Social support refers to ‘process of interaction in relationships which improves coping, esteem, belonging, and competence through actual or perceived exchanges of physical or psychosocial resources’. It embraces emotional, instrumental, informational and appraisal support. A number of studies indicate social support is essential for maintaining physical and psychological well-being of seniors.
Mutual support service is a unique model which could fulfil seniors’ needs on social support based on reciprocity. It engages seniors to take part in service in a more mutually beneficial way rather than staying as a passive receiver. This service intends to enable seniors not only to receive but also to provide social support in service network.
However, it is not for granted that social support among people always naturally happens and sustained. While there are high levels of interest and enthusiasm for mutually supportive solution in service and community design sector, still there is a lack of knowledge on how to design a condition or environment enabling and facilitating this social support.
This project aims at developing a methodological framework for designing a service system fostering a mutually supportive relationship among service participants. It includes diagnosis of current state of mutual support service from social support perspective and strategic elements for enhancing social support in need. The framework could be helpful to those who want to design a mutual support service for seniors or improve the relational quality of the service especially where mutual support is considered essential.