WP5 Year 2: design development

Semi-annual update 2 – August 2017

Between March and August 2017, the teams of both work packages (WP4 – personal design and WP5 – design for the environment) have continued to work closely together, as well as with WP 2 (mindful framework) and WP3 (dementia care/data collection) to provide support for the data collection through the development of supportive materials, and to establish the mindful design framework.

From our earlier analysis of design projects, we have concluded that projects in this area either have a strong focus on safety, wayfinding, or related (functional) issues or, alternatively, seek to provide stimulation through creating multi-sensory, holistic experiences. Taking design for the environment as a starting point, we have further analysed the state of the art and have concluded that insights and guidelines are missing in particular in this area.

We are developing an positioning paper (to be submitted in Okt 2017 to Healing Environments Research and Design – HERD) that outlines this gap in knowledge and development and that introduces a specific, evidence-based focus on multi–sensory stimulation and nature experience. This latter focus is warranted, we argue, because when moving through the stages of dementia, cognitive functioning gradually diminishes whereas capacities for sensory exploration and ‘mindful’ experience in the immediate moment (i.e., direct experience not mediated by cognitive interpretation) remain intact. Both multi-sensory experience and exposure to nature may well be successful strategies, precisely because they do not pose cognitive demands and promote mindfulness. Furthermore, we will argue that they are also suited to enhance social engagement. Our work closely aligns with research on healing environments.

From May 2017 onwards, the MinD project has also begun with its active design phase: In May, the results from the data collection in three countries were presented (WP3), and – in joint work between healthcare professionals and designers, nine areas of ‘need’ were identified from the data and illustrated with quotes and visuals. Further more, these three areas were rationalised in the ‘AIR’ model, which grouped them into needs relating to Activities, the Individual and Relationships. In response to the nine themes, designers conducted initial brainstorming sessions to identify design directions and opportunities. Together with a key selection of participants’ quotes and existing design products and services, the design ideas were related back to the Needs themes as well as to mindfulness and psychosocial criteria (topics) taking the form of a grid. The grid highlighted areas of focus for participants as well as of existing designs and design ideas, where they converged and where they diverged.

The next steps from September onwards will be further sessions of brainstorming and of the selection of design ideas in discussion with people with dementia and healthcare experts.