Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

SYMPOSIUM | Designing for Dementia

The Designing for Dementia Symposium hosted by the QUT Design Lab presented diverse research project updates, highlighting some of the vital work by designers and researchers in addressing the needs and wellbeing of people living with dementia. The presentations all presented nuanced approaches to person-centred design and environments, project evaluation, participatory and inclusive approaches to design, and the need to create meaningful experiences for people living with dementia. Some of the projects that were profiled during the day are listed below.

The LAUGH (Ludic Artefacts Using Gesture and Haptics) research project is designing innovative playful devices that amuse, distract, comfort, engage, bring joy, and promote ‘in the moment’ living for people with late stage dementia.

Materialising Memories
The Materialising Memories project aims to use a design approach to assist people in remembering through a selection of appropriate digital media cues and facilitating forgetting irrelevant experiences. This project will investigate remembering and forgetting (both results of the same process), the effects of physical and digital media on memories in everyday life and the creation and curation of these media. This knowledge will be used to design, implement and evaluate interactive systems that will facilitate remembering and forgetting.

Dementia Care by Design
A research film about De Hogewyk by Nicole Gaudet.Given exclusive access to de Hogeweyk in early 2015, researcher Nicole Gaudet and Megan Strickfaden with filmmaker Steven Hope traveled to the Netherlands to explore a care facility for people with dementia – De Hogeweyk. This ethnographic documentary promises a glimpse into the world of dementia through an innovative space that leaves audiences touched by the humanity of a different kind of care facility that gives hope for future generations.

MinD – Designing for People with Dementia
This project aims to help people with dementia engage in social contexts to improve psychosocial wellbeing. Design can offer novel ways of complementing existing care approaches to empower people with dementia in everyday social situations. Utilising the concept of mindful design, the project investigates innovative design solutions to enable self-empowerment and confidence building of people living with dementia.

Dementia Training Australia
DTA is a service established to provide dementia-specific training to aged care, health care professionals, undergraduate trainees, and a range of other professionals and community service providers. The goal is to improve the care and wellbeing of people with dementia.
DTA will provide a range of services, events, and resources to ensure that up-to-date dementia knowledge and skills training are within reach of anyone who has a professional contact point with people who have dementia.

The presentation by Kirsty Bennett focused on Environmental Design Principles for Dementia, which is downloadable from the website.

Dementia Friendly Airports
Airport audit using the Dementia Friendly Communities Environmental Assessment Tool to determine the ‘dementia friendliness’ of Brisbane Airport’s Domestic and International Terminals.

Inside Aged Care
Through a semi-longitudinal ethnographic case study, the ‘Inside Age Care’ project investigated the day-to-day ‘lived experience’ for residents of one Brisbane aged care facility over three years (2014–2016). One of the project outputs was an exhibition at the State Library of Queensland featuring photographs and stories by the project participants.

I also recently attended the Dementia Friendly Communities Advisory Group meeting which involved co-design of the program. The participation of people living with dementia and their carers is essential for the success and relevance of this program. In Place, the magazine of the Place Leaders Asia Pacific, will also be publishing an article I have written about place making and dementia in the near future.


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