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The Memory Box – Children’s Book

The Memory Box – Children’s Book

Dementia can impact on all family members, particularly children or grandchildren. However there is a dearth of material to help children understand what is happening… 

Funded by: Research England

Project lead: Claire Craig, Helen Fisher

The Memory Box is one of a series of books aimed at children to build understanding of what dementia is and how to best support a relative living with the condition. The research examines whether this medium can help children to navigate the complex challenges that having a parent or grandparent with dementia can bring.

Compassionate Sheffield

​A project exploring what makes Sheffield ‘compassionate’ when it comes to end of life care.

Project lead: Claire Craig, Helen Fisher

Funded by: Research England

Partners: Sheffield City Council

Compassionate Communities are networks of support comprising of family, friends, neighbours and community members; they are the foundation of what matters most to those undergoing experiences of death, dying, loss and care giving. A Compassionate City builds on this, covering the civic aspect of our lives; how we can become engaged in compassionate activities in the workplace, churches and temples, our educational institutions etc. Lab4Living are working with the council and organisations across the city to achieve a Compassionate City status in line with the Compassionate City Charter.

Connecting People, Connecting Support Online

Connecting People, Connecting Support is an online space where people with dementia, family members and care staff can access post-diagnostic materials informed by our research programme Journeying through Dementia.  

Project team: Claire Craig, Helen Fisher

Funded by: Research England

Partners: Alzheimer Scotland, Royal College of Occupational Therapists,
Scottish Dementia Working Group

The web-platform was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which saw many individuals confined to home and unable to access vital services. The web-site was highly successful in providing a platform through which individuals and their families could access the Journeying through Dementia research and it was found to be a positive way to engage with a wide-number of individuals. Within two months of its launch the materials had been down loaded over 30,000 times, formed the basis of interventions used by the Alzheimer Scotland link workers. The research team was invited to offer a webinar to over 150 Allied Health Professionals about the work (see link) and it was cited in the Guardian as an example of best practice in relation to University responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our clinical support worker has been using the website to focus welfare phone calls for people living alone at home with dementia. They’ve gained quite a rapport from using the topics as themes for their conversations – great work! 

Allied Health Professional

The Scottish Dementia Working Group undertook an evaluation of the materials and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.  
 
The work had formed the starting point of a broader enquiry, which seeks to build understanding of the design qualities and features that can help people with dementia to meaningfully engage with this technology. The next phase of the work will be to test a series of principles and practices that have been developed in the delivery of a group-work intervention on-line. 

I am amazed at what you have achieved in such a small amount of time. 

Allied Health Professional

Carers don’t have the energy to search for things online so having this all in one place is great… People feel like they’ve won the lottery when they see the website!

Allied Health Professional

Click here for Connecting People Connecting Support Online related news items.

Coffee Table Conversations

This research explored the role of design in re-imagining patient information. During a previous enquiry, Journeying through Dementia, individuals living with the condition described how existing hospital information and leaflets reinforced a reductionist and medicalized view of the self. The research identified a need to create materials that were more personalized and could challenge the stereotypical images commonly associated with living with a diagnosis. 

Project team: Claire Craig, Helen Fisher

Funded by: National Education Scotland

Partners: Alzheimer Scotland

The team employed a participatory research approach, working with people with dementia and health care staff in Northern England and Scotland. The themes of the cards were determined through the research process and reflect the topics identified as being important. Decisions in relation to the images were made in partnership with people living with dementia.  

The resultant materials provide key information that can be shared with families but the design and style of these mean that they can sit comfortably on the coffee table, blending seamlessly with the home environment.  

These have found to be effective as a focus for conversation and as a mechanism to support engagement in meaningful activity. 

It makes such a difference having something blether about. The cards are beautiful. They aren’t hidden away but sit proudly on the coffee table. 

Participant

The 100-Year Life project

The 100 Year Life Project will exploit and advance the role of design research in enabling older people to lead longer, more productive lives – the longevity effect. Lab4Living has been awarded funding by Research England through their Expanding Excellence in England (E3) fund to support the strategic expansion of research in this area.

Funded by: Research England


Due to higher life expectancies the number of people expected to live to be 100 will increase significantly by 2066. The changing demographics and structure of the population will bring many challenges to society, the economy and services. However this will bring new opportunities for the emergence of new markets, increased involvement in volunteering, longer working lives and possibly providing care for family members. Individuals will need to plan their life and retirement differently with existing ideas of ageing being replaced with models of a multi-stage 100 year life (birth, education, work, education, training, work, career break, education and training).

Age related products, new housing models and care technologies which enable older people to lead more independent fulfilled lives will be considered within this project answering questions on what these products are, how multi-sectorial groups of people will work together, what standards and quality assurances are required for these products and services  and how this knowledge is shared across sectors.

“One in three children born in the UK today can expect to live to be 100 – and by 2066 one in two children will reach this milestone. We need to look at what this expanded life-span will mean for where and how people live; what products will they use; what the implications are for health care, communities, and, of course, the home.”

Prof Paul Chamberlain

Focusing on informing the scale and scope of the Future Home, the project will generate ideas for new aspirational products, protocols and interventions which meet the physical, cognitive and emotional needs of an ageing population within the Future Home.

Related news:

For more information, please contact Julie Roe, Project Manager E3, Lab4Living.

HOSPITAbLe

The challenges society faces in providing future healthcare suggests significant rethinking of the way health services are delivered and the way we engage with them. There is recognition that this is likely to demand more self-care and the shift of care from hospital to home.  This collection of objects explores implications of this shift in both the culture and practice of health interventions. 

Funded by:
NIHR CLARHC Yorkshire & Humber
Art & Design Research Centre

Partnered with
The Waag Society, Amsterdam; Gallerie UM, Prague

Project Lead: Paul Chamberlain

The home and hospital bring together very different cultural practices and environments, and the inexorable geographical shift in care has potential to impact on our physical and emotional relationship with our home space.

While professional care support within the home may be beneficial to the informal carer and care recipient, they also transgress the social space of the home and challenge its symbolic.

“The role of the designer
is that of a very good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guests”.

Charles Eames

If we are to assume a greater uptake of healthcare at home to relieve pressures on current systems of delivery, we must not simply develop solutions and focus research within the narrow boundaries of healthcare. Solutions will only be successful if they fit with the complexity of our lives. Therefore there is value in taking everyday experiences as a starting point. This research draws on the value of thinking with things through physical metaphors, engaging people in meaningful ways to elicit their understanding. 

Theatrum Anatomicum, WAAG Society, Amsterdam

“The things we use and make (technologies) are not neutral objects but embodiments of ourselves and cultural values. Where a disconnect between the technology and these cultural values emerge this impacts on the individuals relationship with the world”.

Greenhalgh

The HOSPITAbLe collection reflects upon and imagines an ambiguous future domestic landscape that presents hybrid functionality and a confused visual language and soundscape. A transient world of semi-alien and alien objects that not only challenge trust, but prohibit control and access. New objects defined by emerging technologies that at times attempt to hide and camouflage. The definers and providers of these future objects being ever more concerned with our health and safety, nudging us into behavioural change but fearful of litigation. An interconnected landscape within which access to health data and information is ubiquitous, incomplete and confusing. Objects that help, support, betray and confront our own mortality

“The invasion of illness- related technology into the home has the potential to destroy the nurturing and therapeutic environment of home as a means of promoting health recovery.”

Gardner

The HOSPITAbLe Collection was exhibited in 2017 at The historic Anatomical Theatre at the Waag Society, Amsterdam, the UMPRUM Gallery Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, Prague, and the Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. In 2018 the collection was exhibited at the Yorkshire Artspace Gallery, Sheffield and at the NIHR Health Services Research UK conference, Nottingham.

A booklet to accompany the exhibition is available here.

 

Future Bathroom

This project aimed to improve the quality and design of bathroom furniture for older people with the goal of producing products which all bathroom users find acceptable as well as meeting the specific needs of older and disabled people.

Funded by: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Ideal Standard

Partners: British Council, Vitra and Istanbul Technical University

Project team: Paul Chamberlain, Heath Reed, Maria Burton and Andy Stanton

The need for user engagement in the design process is particularly acute when the target user group has specific requirements which may not be fully appreciated by designers. The focus of this research, designing to support older disabled living is one such problem. The specific domain of interest, that of the bathroom, provides a number of challenges to user-centred design methodology because of the highly personal, sensitive and intimate nature of the activities that take place there.

“I don’t wash my hair in the shower because when I close my eyes I feel unsafe. I wash it in the sink after my shower.”

Female, 70.

“I never thought I would have trouble getting out of the bath but I do.”

Male, 75.

“Things have changed since we moved here – as you get older, things change a lot.”

Female, 63, with arthritis.

The aim of this project was firstly, to develop a robust methodology for fostering co-design dialogue between designers, researchers and people (aged 50+) with chronic age related health conditions which lead to disability and frailty. Examples include arthritis, osteoporosis, stroke and macular degeneration.

Secondly, it aimed to develop a range of innovative and desirable bathroom concepts that are sensitive to the problems of living with disability, which do not stigmatize, are capable of manufacture and will demonstrate the principles we have developed.

The three-year project, funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, involved end users, predominantly older users, and Ideal Standard, one of the largest global manufacturers of bathroom products.

Creative approaches were adopted to prompt discussion on bathroom behaviour, often considered taboo, such as the recruitment of older ‘community lay researchers’ who visited older people in the community and the implementation of public field labs.

In addition, quantitative data was collected (via motion capture, high speed cameras and thin film force sensors) through observational studies undertaken in a simulated bathroom environment.

The research evolved to explore further the cultural behaviour of bathroom use through a further project ‘loo-lab’ which was funded by the British Council in collaboration with Istanbul Technical University, industry partner Vitra and older people living in Turkey. The project featured in the Foundation for Assistive Technology, Annual Parliamentary Report UK.

A bathroom design guide for users, ‘If only I knew then what I know now’ (endorsed by Age UK) was published from the findings.

The Lab4Living researchers on this project were Heath Reed, Maria Burton and Andy Stanton.

“If you are interested in designing your bathroom to better suit your needs as you grow older, then this will be a useful guide. We always welcome advice based on sound evidence produced by expert researchers, as we have in this leaflet.“

– Professor James Goodwin, Head of Research, Age UK, 2011.

Project Impacts

Included in NIHR Dissemination Centre Review

Future Bathroom is included in the recent NIHR Dissemination Centre Themed Review ‘Help at Home‘ (December 2018, doi: 10.3310/themedreview-03345)

Most Innovative Design

Outcomes of the project were awarded ‘Most Innovative Design’ in 2017 by the Over 50s Housing Association, UK.

Included in parliamentary reports

The Foundation for Assistive Technology (FAST) produce an annual parliamentary report about R&D in Assistive Technology (AT). Included in the 2009-10 report and 2011-12 report.

Work Exhibited

This work was included in the 2009 EPSRC Pioneers exhibition at Olympia, where it was praised for its innovative research methodology and its focus on the training of older people as community researchers. The Foundation for Assistive Technology (FAST) produce an annual parliamentary report about R&D in Assistive Technology (AT). Included in the 2009-10 report and 2011-12 report.