The “Go-Along” research method is a way of observing people in their local neighbourhood to see the streets from their perspective. It allows participants to tell their stories about the things they like and don’t like when getting out and about.
The “go-along walking” method has been used with people with dementia. The findings provided insights into how people get around and their need to feel safe.
A similar project was undertaken in Copenhagen focused on older people. The data was gathered using a Go-Pro camera and interviews. Social interaction turned out to be the overall reason for going outdoors. Footpaths, seating and sheltered places were the most important design elements. Of course, these are not limited to older people. A case of “necessary for some and good for others”.
Photographs tell the personal stories and illustrate some of the findings.
The title of the article is, Going along with older people: exploring age-friendly neighbourhood design through their lens. Springer Link has not granted open access, but you can request a copy from ResearchGate. It was published by the Journal of Housing and the Built Environment in 2020.
Neighbourhoods are extremely important to older people, as this is where a great deal of their everyday life is spent and where social interaction happens. This is particularly the case in deprived neighbourhoods, where people with limited economic resources or physical limitations find it challenging to venture outside the neighbourhood.
A growing body of research suggests studying age-friendly neighbourhoods from a bottom-up approach which takes the diversity of the age group into account. This paper aims to investigate how the go-along method can serve to co-construct knowledge about age-friendly neighbourhood design in a deprived neighbourhood of Copenhagen with a diverse group of older people.
Sixteen go-along interviews were carried out with older people aged 59–90. The participants took on an expert role in their own everyday life and guided the researcher through the physical and social environments of their neighbourhood.
The go-alongs were documented with a GoPro camera. The data were analysed using situational analysis and was grouped into thematic categories. Our findings conclude that social interaction is the overall motivator for going outdoors and that dimensions of pavements, the seating hierarchy, the purpose of lawns, sheltered spaces and ‘unauthorised’ places are all neighbourhood design elements that matter in this regard.
The findings suggest to consider age-friendly details as the starting point for social interaction, to target the appropriate kind of age-friendly programs and to enhance empowerment through physical spaces. The go-along interview as a research method holds the potential for empowering older people and appreciating their diversity.