How can we support our customers to live well for longer?

Our head of innovation and marketing, Jayne Lawson brings you details about a major project for Thirteen:

Jayne Lawson 2


How we can support our customers to live well for longer was the question which started a six-month journey to discover as much as we could about our role as a social housing provider in the way people age.

We know that there is more work to be done to future-proof our organisation for an ageing population, firstly to benefit of our customers, but also to ensure we’re achieving our aims as a business.

The challenges posed by, and for, our ever-growing older population in the UK are well documented, but what does it mean for a forward-thinking social landlord in the North East? Are there specific challenges that are unique to our local communities? What role could technology play in helping us to live well for longer and most importantly, what kind of housing and support will our older customers of the future want and need?

Our living well project is currently in the discover stage of the double diamond model which you can see below:

Diamond project diagram

Breaking it down

The questions in this project are by no means small ones, and the discovery phase of the project needed to answer them thoroughly to provide innovative solutions to the problems we face.

We needed a way to break down the project into more manageable chunks, so Thirteen’s innovation team set about talking to teams across the business to help them understand the project further. After some remote workshops and a multitude of sticky notes, we ended up with five strands of work, described using some aspirational ‘imagine if’ statements:

Diagram of imagine if statements

Our ‘imagine if’ statements helped people to think creatively about the possibilities for the future. We used them to ask people what information they thought we would need to know to reach these aspirational future states. What questions did the statements immediately pose when people heard them? And following that, what do we already know about these areas of work and where are the gaps in our knowledge?

Getting in the know

After gathering extensive research, insights, evidence and data, we’ve been able to identify the questions that matter the most to our customers and that will benefit our organisation.

To get to this stage, we’ve spoken to national specialists in loneliness, innovators in the older age sector, local GPs, hospital staff, community workers, architects, extra care providers, third sector leaders and some of our older customers.

We’ve also gathered data and evidence from across the country and looked at examples of best practice form across the world. We still have a few more workshops to deliver, but we’re approaching the end of the discovery phase and will move into the define phase in the coming months.

What’s next?

We know already that there are some key themes coming out of our work, which will help shape what we do next, and we’re excited to share our learning and progress with those involved to help us prioritise the problems we want to start solving.

If you want to know more or get involved in the living well project, we’d be happy to chat. Contact us at or follow us on our social channels:

  • Twitter: @HiLab_Thirteen
  • Linkedin: HiLab