Visual cards

A set of cards, each having a simple picture of an activity in the top 2/3, and the bottom 1/3 is black with white text describing the action

The idea to use a set of visual cards emerged from the discussion about the interviews and focus groups. The question arose how best to communicate with participants during the interviews, how to help them maintain their attention and to remember e.g. daily tasks and situations of daily living during the interviews. The aim of the cards was thus to provide support, both, for the interviewer and interviewee during the interview through being

  • usable as a prompt and memory aid
  • easy to understand because of offering a visual and written dimension

Cards to support interviews have already been used successfully by other researchers Hassanzahl & Diefenbach (2010) and Casais, Mugge, Desmet (2016). The team therefore reviewed existing cards as well as approaches of appropriate visualisation. This resulted in a decision to use illustrations to visualise the activities on the cards in order to reduce the visuals to the key characteristics of an activity, and keep them visually simple and clear to facilitate easy recognition. The design has drawn on guidelines for designing web-content for elderly people Dementia Centre, HammondCare (2016), which suggests using bright colours, contrast, appropriate and clear font type and size, as well as a comfortable size of the cards.

The cards were designed to cover four areas of activities and daily life in line with the mindfulness framework of the project, and the focus of the interview schedules, covering:

  • activities of daily living (ADL)
  • social activities
  • leisure activities
  • wellbeing

As part of the development process, different options for the cards have been presented to all members of the team as well as potential participants (through dementia outreach groups) to comment on. In this way, the cards have gradually become refined in terms of the chosen activities, figurative representations (concerning age, gender, ethnic diversity, etc.), visual readability, and other criteria.

So far the Visual Cards have been used, and their use observed, in eight interviews with people with dementia, to evaluate their role in supporting the interview process.