Symposium guests
Action projects

Empathising with Elderly in Workplace

As the population ages and life expectancy increases, the workforce of Hong Kong is also ageing. The Government estimates that our workforce will start to shrink after reaching its peak in 2021.

Is our labour market ready to face the challenges of ageing labour? Are grassroots elderlies destined only to 3D jobs that are Dirty, Dangerous and Demeaning?

Themed “Empathising with Elderly in Workplace”, the Season 2 “One from Hundred Thousand” Symposium was held in January 2019. We engaged designers, trade experts, members of the public and elderly workers to co-create tools and modifications to working environment that would be friendlier to the grassroots elderly workers including waste pickers, cleaners, care-givers and kitchen helpers.

There are four action projects under this season:

  1. Co-designing Iron Trolley for Cardboards Recycling
  2. Elderly-friendly Community Kitchen
  3. Socially Inclusive Waste Management Hub
  4. Co-creating Harmonised Workspace and User-centred Services in Nursing Home

“One from Hundred Thousand” Symposium

What problems do the elders or senior persons face in their jobs? We interviewed six senior persons from different occupations to understand their ideas on employment or re-employment.

Action Project 1:
Co-designing Iron Trolley for Cardboards Recycling

Pooling together efforts from different parties, the work trolley used by waste pickers is re-designed in order to reduce their work strain, increase their work safety and uphold their dignity.


  • Re-designed based on the most popular iron-trolley on the market, but made to be safer, more labour-saving and adaptable to the local environment
  • Easy in lifting up to kerbs
  • Easy navigation
  • Brakes on the rear wheels
  • Locking device
  • Goods of same weight is more stable on the new recycling trolley when compared with the traditional trolley.
  • Meet the actual work needs of waste pickers and equip them with the accessories they need every day

The Recycling Trolley has undergone several street tests, allowing users to try on the new functions and the co-creation team to refine the prototypes. In September 2019, we introduced the new design to the neighborhood of To Kwa Wan for the first time.

Action Project 2:
Elderly-friendly Community Kitchen

Participation of elder persons in voluntary work is a manifestation of active ageing. Collaborating with PolyU Social Design students and design consultants, JCDISI examined a community kitchen that is operated with support of its “third-age” volunteers (retirees aged above 55-year-old) and come up with elderly-friendly design measures in spatial layouts, furnitures, tools and equipments, operational logistics and incentives schemes.

Through interviewing social workers and third-age volunteers, Social Design students come up with the stakeholder mapping of the community kitchen.

The design of the interior space and uniforms of the community kitchen is used to enhance the sense of belonging of the third-age volunteers.

A practical toolkit will be published to serve as a reference for building a community-friendly kitchen for the elderly in the future.

JCDISI bridges between professional, academic and civil society groups/charitable organisations, looking for “quick-win solutions” on specific issues for responding the needs of users and the communities.

The process includes:

Working with interest groups (Civil society groups or charitable organisations)

Understanding the needs of users

Empathising the needs of users and innovating through design thinking workshops

Working with professionals and designers to achieve “quick-win solutions”

The design and process to be opened to public for adoption and adaptation by relevant parties

Action Project 3:
Socially Inclusive Waste Management Hub

With the vision of freshening up the cleaning industry, improving the existing system and establishing the cleaner a more vital and professional public image to advocate the rights and benefits for cleaners, JCDISI, in collaboration with a professional team of architects, green group and concern group for cleaners’ right, work out a proposal of the spatial design and operational procedures of the multi-purpose waste management building in Yuen Long. This design proposal will be user-oriented and public engagement is considered to be essential.

The design proposal covers two aspects:

a) Showing respect to cleaners by creating humanistic and cleaner-friendly working environment and
b) Advocating the value and practice of eco-friendly and waste reduction.

This design proposal will eventually be used by civil society groups for further advocacy for waste-management policies with Government.

JCDISI and civil society groups are consulting ideas from the public and users

Action Project 4:
Co-creating Harmonised Workspace and User-centred Services in Nursing Home

The shortage of workforce and the ageing of employees are the problems faced by the residential care homes. In order to assist the care home in enhancing their image, JCDISI and Dr. Brian Lee, Assistant Professor of PolyU School of Design conducted co-creation workshops and researches with the nursing home staff and management to enhance the working environment, aiming to improve employees’ satisfaction and self-recognition at work and enhance the services of elderly nursing home.

Employees reviewed their workflow and work environments

Critical service points were identified for further studies and co-design exercises