Mind 2019 – Conference Theme

MinD invites papers and design contributions for the first international MinD conference 2019 on Designing for People with Dementia.

The conference will provide a trans-disciplinary forum for researchers, practitioners, end-users and policy makers from the design and health care professions to exchange and discuss new findings, approaches and methods for using design to improve dementia care and to support people with dementia and their carers.

With ca. 10.9 million people affected by dementia in Europe, with numbers set to double by 2050 (Prince, Guerchet and Prina 2013), with 20 million carers, and with no cure in sight, research into care to improve the quality of life of people with dementia is essential, to encourage and enable them to engage in activities that are in line with their interests and experiences (Alcove 2013; Alzheimer’s Society 2013).

Characterised by progressive memory and cognitive degeneration, people who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias often face cognitive, behavioural and psychosocial difficulties, including impairment and degeneration of memory and of perceptions of identity (Alcove 2013). As a result, many have reduced physical activities or social engagement, or are unable to work. Emotionally, this can lead to uncertainty, anxiety and depression and a loss of sense of purpose.

In this light, it is becoming increasingly apparent that it is not just care that is required but support for how to live well with dementia, whether in one’s own home or in residential care. This includes managing one’s own care and every day tasks, as well as leisure activities, social engagement. Even small things such as whether and when to go out or what to wear can have important effects on people’s sense of self and wellbeing, contentment and happiness. Key to this is having choices and the ability to decide. Acknowledging the agency of people with dementia and understanding what can be done to support this is therefore a key question.

Design-based non-pharmacological interventions are increasingly recognised as having great potential to help. Design can offer novel ways of complementing care and independent living to empower people with dementia in everyday situations because of its ubiquitous nature and its affordances. Much focus has so far been on physical and cognitive tasks and on safe-keeping and reducing risks. For example, design can help accomplish physical tasks and offer guidance or reminders, e.g. for time or orientation, or alert to behavioural changes. While there are some approaches towards emotional and social aspects of living with dementia, more could and should be done to focus on enabling people with dementia and acknowledging their agency.

Design can help to support social, leisure, creative activities. It can help empower people with dementia offering choices and aiding decision-making. Design can support the individual person, or change the environment. This can take the form of a product, of systems or services, of the built or natural environment. The importance is to use design to help reduce stigma and exclusion, and instead to improve well-being and social inclusion to create happiness.

While the aims may be clear, the way to achieve them still raises many questions about the best approaches, ways and methods to achieve such aims. This conference therefore seeks to explore the manifold areas and approaches. This may include novel theoretical approaches, novel methods in design development or in working with and including end-users, or novel products, environments, services or systems. Or it may include novel ways of working, collaboration and co-operation. The key aim is to bring together and explore how we might impact positively and sustainably on the personal, social, cultural and economic factors within our communities to improve living with dementia.

To this end, we welcome a broad engagement with the field and invite submissions from a diverse range of researchers and practitioners from the various design and health disciplines, including product and interior design, craft, information and communication technologies, architecture and the built environment, psychiatry, psychology, geriatrics and others who make a relevant contribution to the field.

Themes may include, for example:

  • Design approaches for the wellbeing/empowerment/happiness of elderly people
  • Design approaches for the wellbeing/empowerment/happiness of people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia
  • New design frameworks and approaches for wellbeing/empowerment/happiness
  • Mindful design approaches for wellbeing/empowerment/happiness
  • Collaboration between designers, technologists, health professionals and people with lived experience
  • Data collection with and by people with MCI/dementia
  • Co-design & co-creation with people with MCI/dementia
  • Evaluation of design with people with lived experience
  • Evaluation of the impact of design on people with lived experience

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