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engagingaging

engagingaging

engagingaging was a transnational programme of research that sought to understand the needs, preferences and aspirations of older people in order to inform the design of products and systems to support independence and wellbeing in later life.

Funded by : 
British Council

Partners:
Chang Gung University, Taiwan.
University of the third Age

Project team:
Paul Chamberlain – Team lead
Claire Craig

engagingaging was a transnational programme of research that sought to understand the needs, preferences and aspirations of older people in order to inform the design of products and systems to support independence and wellbeing in later life.

‘Engagingaging was a fresh approach and broke the rules on what we normally expect from an exhibition. It dealt with some difficult and controversial issues in a friendly and accessible way’
Curator museum of Contemporary Art , Taipei, Taiwan”.

The concept of ‘The Exhibition’ is embedded within the culture of Art & Design and has a long history as a form of ‘gathering’ to prompt discourse. This research explores the role of the exhibition as a ‘theatre for conversation’ and its role and format as a research tool as well as a means of dissemination.

The research is based on the principle of engaging users through a programme of workshops, integrated with the exhibition, to illicit a better understanding of user-needs, which in turn inform design activity. The enquiry was predicated on the premise that older people offer a valued resource and asset to families, communities and society.
The starting point of the research, funded by the British Council, was a comparison of the experiences of older people living in the United Kingdom and Taiwan.

Within the exhibition a collection of furniture entitled ‘Stigmas’ embodied issues relating to the physical, cognitive and attitudinal challenges older people face in everyday life. The critical artefacts did not present solutions but posed a series of considered questions that illuminated the landscape of old age.

The engagingaging series of exhibitions has been hosted at a number of venues including: the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei; Building Centre, London; the Taipei Cultural Centre; and the SIA gallery, Sheffield, and underpins a collaborative project with Chang Gung University and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan (British Council PMI CONNECT funded).

Enabling Ongoingness

This research seeks to understand the benefits that design and digital technologies might bring in offering new ways to, firstly, express a sense of who they are in the present, and, secondly, to make objects and media content that will support other people after one’s death

Funded by EPSRC

Partners: Northumbria University; Newcastle University; BBC;  Marie Curie; CRUSE Bereavement; National Council for Palliative Care

Project lead: Claire Craig

Project team: Helen Fisher

The project is a design engagement with older people, people living with dementia, people approaching the end of their lives and people who are bereaved.

We are living in a time when life expectancy is the highest it has ever been (81.5 years average life expectancy in the UK).

However, this positive achievement of medicine and modern ways of living means that as the nature of growing older is changing, so too is end-of-life. Whilst promoting the inclusion of older people in society enriches our social make-up it also gives rise to new challenges.

For example, there is an increasing demand for care, but reductions in resource available to support the older old and a reduction in people using local authority supported care services.

In terms of bereavement, studies have identified a huge hidden cost associated not only with increased mortality of the bereaved but also their increased hospital stay and bereavement-related consultations. In Scotland alone this hidden and latent cost translates into £20 million per year.

Of the 500,000 people who die each year in the UK, currently around 92,000 die with unmet needs for palliative care. The increasingly complex needs of more people who are living longer with life-limiting conditions is positioned by Hospice UK as a current grand societal challenge as the demand for care at the end of life is set to rise steeply between 2016 and 2025.

“This research addresses the big questions to interrogate the meaning of life and death in the digital age”

(Ongoingness participant).

Personal digital content and assets are continuously being created, by us and around us. Through social and personal media we are creating status updates, voice recordings, conversations, videos, photographs and blogs which all contribute to the coalescence of a digital trail and identity. However, what we cannot purposefully do is curate these digital assets to specifically support a sense-of-self, help people deal with their own approaching end-of-life, nor help others deal with bereavement.

This research study therefore seeks to work with individuals facing major life transitions to help curate their digital content through a creative process to embed this within a series of personal digital artefacts that the person will own and which will support them at points of transition (e.g. following bereavement, managing a long term condition).

Better Out Patient Services for Older People (BOSOP)

This project sought to build understanding of the experiences of older people accessing services and to gain insight into some of the factors that led to non-attendance of appointments. The research aimed to improve the experience of older people with complex needs who use outpatient services at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. The aim of greater respect for users’ dignity was particularly important.

Funded by: National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
Partners: Mark Cobb, Clinical Director, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals
Project team: Dan Wolstenholme, Andy Dearden, Simon Bowen, Helena Soustar, Matt Dexter

Missed appointments are a significant issue for the UK National Health Service. Not only can this compromise treatment for individuals but it also carries a significant financial cost.

Better Out Patient Services for Older People (BOSOP) sought to build understanding of the experiences of older people accessing services and gain insight into some of the factors that led to non-attendance of appointments. The research aimed to improve the experience of older people with complex needs using outpatient services at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. The aim of greater respect for users’ dignity was particularly important.

Better Out Patient Services for Older People (BOSOP)
Better Out Patient Services for Older People (BOSOP)

Researchers utilised a range of creative methods to elicit the experiences of older people and key stakeholders who participated in the study including emotion mapping, patient narratives and participatory theatre. These methods sat within the broader methodology of Evidence Based Design (EBD) as developed by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement.

BOSOP enabled patients and staff to develop proposals to improve patient experiences including a new appointment letter.

Related papers and reports

Support4All

Radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer requires precision and accuracy. This research builds understanding and has developed a novel solution for safer breast radiotherapy through the creation of a support bra, enabling reproducible positioning of tissue during breast irradiation treatment and helping maintain modesty and promote dignity.

Funded by National Institute of Health Research.

Partners:
Sheffield Hallam University: Faculty of Health & Wellbeing
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Panache Lingerie Ltd

Project Team:
Design Lead – Heath Reed
Prof Heidi Probst, Andy Stanton

Breast cancer symptoms affects a substantial proportion of the population and state-of-the-art radiotherapy approaches require increasing precision and accuracy to avoid long-term side effects.

UK’s 100 best breakthroughs

Named as one of the UK’s 100 best breakthroughs for its significant impact on people’s everyday lives.
See The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list: 100+ Ways Universities Have Improved Everyday Life

There is evidence that immobilising the breast during radiotherapy following a diagnosis of breast cancer is problematic. Patients with larger breasts are particularly difficult to position. This decreases the accuracy of treatment and the process can increase levels of emotional distress and compromise dignity.

This bra has been designed specifically so that it doesn’t absorb too much of the radiation beam and therefore doesn’t increase the skin dose.

(Dr. Heidi Probst)

This research seeks to develop a novel solution for safer breast radiotherapy through the creation of a support bra. This will enable reproducible positioning of tissue during breast irradiation treatment, help maintain modesty and promote dignity.

A mixed methods approach has been adopted to build understanding of patient and staff requirements and develop insights into the materials that could potentially be used.

Very few centres will cover the patient during radiotherapy so this is unique – it allows the patient to be covered during the treatment.

(Dr. Heidi Probst)

The inquiry is ongoing. To date a number of prototypes have been created and are currently being tested. The research raises further avenues of investigation in relation to methodological approaches and ways of testing designs.

I’ve been clear 9 years now. Being able to wear a bra while you’re having radiotherapy treatment would be very helpful for women as they go through the treatment, make them feel much for comfortable at a time when you feel very vulnerable.

(Rachel, test volunteer)

Head-Up

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease, with individuals developing weak neck muscles, leading to pain, restricted movement.

This research built understanding of optimal requirements for a supportive neck collar with flexibility to allow functional head movement. Through an iterative prototyping process the HeadUp Collar, a class one medical device, has been patented.

Funded by:
National Institute of Health Research
NIHR Devices for Dignity
Motor Neurone Disease Association

Partners:
University of Sheffield SITraN (Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience)
NIHR Devices for Dignity
Motor Neurone Disease Association
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Barnsley NHS Foundation Trust
TalarMade

Project team:
Heath Reed – Team lead
Joe Langley, Andy Stanton

Co-design workshops brought together people living with MND, carers, clinicians and designers. Participatory methods, including qualitative interviews, 2D visualisation and 3D mock-ups, helped build understanding. 

The study is an example of collaborative, interdisciplinary research and new product development underpinned by participatory design. The NIHR i4i funding enabled the team to iteratively develop and detail the product over a 24-month programme.

“This is a product that can be completely customized to the patient’s needs and requirements – that’s the huge benefit and the beauty of the collar and its design.”

(Liz Pryde, Devices for Dignity)

The proof of the pudding for me was that they were coming to clinic wearing the collar, it wasn’t in the drawer with the other collars.

(Chris McDermott, Consultant Neurologist)

Following the iterative prototyping process the HeadUp collar, a class one medical device, was patented. It has undergone multi-centre clinical evaluation with results indicating that the product meets user requirements and showed an increase in the number of hours the collars are used, compared to existing neck orthoses.

It looks like clothing, really, rather than a medical device. Without the collar, I wouldn’t be able to drive and that makes a huge difference. With a rigid collar, you can look ahead but you can’t turn your head to see the traffic, but with this collar you can do that. It’s life-changing really.

(Philip, wearer of HeadUp Collar)
Over 1500 units sold in the first year

That’s 1500 people now able to get on with their lives with the support of this simple collar.
Talarmade were shortlisted for the Partnership with Academia Award at the Medilink North of England Healthcare Business Awards 2019.

The collar, now known as HeadUp, is available to purchase from local manufacturing company TalarMade, who have more than 30 years’ experience in developing clinical innovations for use in rehabilitative and orthotic practice.