The world of Nestor. An online tool for better designing services for the elderly

Client: Department for Care for the Elderly of the Social Welfare of Ghent
Design Agency: Pars Pro Toto
Project Partner: Design Flanders
Location: Belgium

The world of Nestor. An online tool for better designing services for the elderly.

What was the problem?

Pars Pro Toto, a full service design agency from Ghent, developed ‘Wereld van Nestor’ for the Department for Care for the Elderly of the Social Welfare of Ghent, with the support of Design Flanders. This project is directly based on the elderly decree introduced by the Flemish Government in 2004 and which advocates closer involvement of seniors in defining a policy for the elderly. ´Wereld van Nestor´ is a practical online and offline tool that can be used for developing policies and services aimed at elderly.


The ‘Wereld van Nestor’ is thus an online service design project that can be used by public authorities, Social Welfare and private partners as a practical work instrument for developing policy and services to the elderly. On the website, there is an overview of various types of seniors with specifically created characters – Nestor’s friends – introduced by images and diary fragments. A glimpse into the life of the various characters provides a better understanding of the needs and the environment of a specific target group. This tool thus makes it easier to react more effectively to specific problems of elderly.

What did they do?

The online tool categorizes ten different types of elderly people using persona. Their experiences are focused on eight themes: housing, mobility, public spaces and buildings, social participation, respect and social involvement, active participation and employment, communication and information and, finally, public and health service. Their stories make designing services less abstract for civil servants, and provide a tangible context for the development of coherent policies.

In general, personae help to estimate more accurately what different target groups need and desire. It is a structural approach, offering a clear overview. Patterns and connections namely emerge when working with personae. Using personae when creating or implementing senior citizen policy allows civil servants to be more effective. The online tool also consists of additional elements aimed at strengthening and improving the creative group designing process.

What was the result?

“Welcome, I’d like to invite you for a cup of coffee.” That welcome greeting with the drawing of a cup of coffee is what you see when you arrive on the website ‘Wereld van Nestor’. When you click further, there is a picture of an older man. He is surrounded by various texts and photos, and is introduced as: Nestor de Ro is 72, lives in a service flat, and is a widower who loves his large social network.


This approach allows to easily understand certain personas, and their needs to enjoy retirement. For example, using personas simplifies the estimation of the structural changes necessary when e.g. the population group represented by the persona ´Rahma´ would increase significantly. It also aids in determining whether a new initiative will exclude any part of the population, or which part will benefit from it most.

City or community councils use this web tool to better serve their elderly. As personas provide a clear picture of the different types of elderly, they allow you to partially predict the consequences of specific developments and create a real user-centered elderly policy. This automatically leads to a better level of service, guaranteeing staff, institutions and most importantly the senior citizens of your community a higher level of care.

To find out more about this case study please contact Annelies Thoelen at Design Flanders.

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