For most of humanity's history, care services – which today we call health and social care – were provided by communities: family members, friends and neighbours would check on each other to make sure everyone was fine, keep an eye on each other's children or elderly parents, even administer simple medical treatments. Starting from the second half of the 20th century, developed countries switched to systems where the care providers were professionals, working for the government and modern corporations.
This new solution has achieved brilliant results, based on the deployment of scientific knowledge and technology. However, over the past 20 years it has come under growing strain: the demand for professional care (health care, social care, daycare for children, care for elderly people…) seems limitless, but the resources our economies allocate to it clearly are not. Additionally, any attempt to rationalise the system and squeeze some extra productivity out of it seems to dehumanise people in need of care, who get treated as batches in a manufacturing process.
What if we could come up with a system that combines the access to modern science and technology of state- and private sector-provided care to the low overhead and human touch of community-provided care?
We are going to attempt to do just that. We are launching OpenCare, a two-year, 1.6 million euro research project to design and prototype new care services. We will:
- collect experiences of community-driven care services
- validate them through open discussion, both online and offline.
- augment them with state-of-the-art maker technology (3D printing, laser cutting, biohacking…)
- combine everything we learn into the design and prototype of next generation community driven care services.
This is way too ambitious for us to do alone, so we'll do it with everybody, leveraging collective intelligence. The whole process will be – and stay – open to anyone who wants to participate. We are working on a social contract to acknowledge each and every contribution, and will not make participants into a crowd of rightless volunteers.
Care is deeply human. Everyone has first-hand experience of it. Even those if us who are not doctors or nurses or caregivers are occasionally patients (even doctors!); we all have first-hand experience of giving and receving care. So, everyone is welcome to join the conversation and the subsequent prototypes. If you want to be involved you can stay up to date through the newsletter, sign up to Edgeryders and come talk to us on our workspace.
OpenCare is led by YOU, and assisted by a world-class partnership: Edgeryders, the University of Bordeaux, the City of Milan, WeMake, ScImpulse Foundation and the Stockholm School of Economics. We are grateful for the support of the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme.