Design and Innovation for Life with Dementia
In 2011 it was said by Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow, that “Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face as the population ages. It currently affects 750,000 people in the UK and that number is set to double over the next thirty years.”
“To make sure we continue to improve health outcomes and manage the growing costs associated with this, we need to think smart and do things differently.”
It is clear to see that we are living in an ageing population where Dementia is affecting not just the life of the individual but also the loved ones who care for and work on daily challenges that can lead to physical and mental well-being. There are many factors for many people looking for support with extra care and funds to help people living with Dementia.
In 2011 a national challenge was set to deliver a programme that would help fund teams to develop new design-led ideas for products and services that may help many lives simpler, better and more enjoyable for those with dementia and their carers. We need ideas to make caring for others an enjoyable experience not only for the patient but also for the people who devote their lives to helping others with the need of support and empathy to care, love and guide through life.
MinD – Designing for People with Dementia
Designing for Dementia is a project that finished in 2020 which has several activities that are continuing through the MinD network in delivering innovative design solutions. MinD has used the concepts of design and mindfulness to help self-empowerment and social engagement for people with Dementia. This is an interesting insight for people with Dementia is focuses on the needs of the individual which gives confidence and abilities to help the person in the communities around them which may inspire and educate people about the life of those with Dementia.
This is Me is a mindful life-storytelling board game that was one of the projects that they helped build for people with Dementia. A lovely boardgame, that allows the player to navigate through decades in which they will pick up cards along the way, that suggest an idea to tell an experience of their life. A really simple and engaging game in making conversation where memory is the focus in helping to open up about the individual past.
MinD created a manual on ‘Designing for people with Dementia’ which I need to read and understand their theories in design and Dementia.
For millions in the UK, dementia already exacts a heavy price – upon sufferers and their carers. It’s in managing the disease that technology could lend a hand. Numbers of people with dementia in the UK are forecast to grow beyond one million by 2025, and to more than two million by 2050.
Dementia-friendly Health and Social Care Environments
Throughout my research, I came across many interesting articles about designing products and services to how design helps people with dementia. I currently at the moment not knowing what my final output of this project is but the research I find will help me navigate in the direction I would like to explore and communicate what I feel is right for my research question.
This link gives an insight into how to design products or services for people affected by Dementia. This article can be a useful read in progressing an idea that I may want to explore.
Further reading on Dementia-friendly Health and Social Care Environments with resources and guidance on design principles
An article on how design is helping people with Dementia speaks about the benefits of design being more useful than taking drugs. It talks about the universal design in a care environment that benefits not just Dementia patients but generally older people and this may be considered to implement a universal design from generations well before we start getting older.
Dementia Services Development Centre is an internationally recognised centre with the mission to improve the lives of people living with dementia. Comprehensive resources that may benefit someone living with Dementia both personally and professionally.
There are many benefits of technology in today’s world that can be assertive for many people not just Dementia, but many forms of disabilities to help with the best quality of life for everyone.
Professor Mary Marshall OBE
Research suggests that for every Dementia patient, more residential character and more personalisation can reduce stress and nature can have the same effect on anxiety and frustration.
Professor Mary Marshall talks about the importance of design in improving care within the environment, helping to navigate a better quality of life for people with Dementia.
People with Dementia tend to have issues with short-term memory loss which is common for any patient. Research has shown that Dementia patients are experiencing living at an earlier time in their life which is known as time-shifting. They may become disorientated and confused about time and place at any moment of time.
They believe it’s important to understand the patient’s past and life story so we can understand how they interpret their present day. We need to consider the environment which may benefit the design of the interior from objects that they’re familiar with from the past and not confuse them with new technology they won’t be able to use.
There are papers on this model behaviour that have been researched and this is known as a ‘Trip back in time’ which approaches the cognitive, emotional, social, physical and functional journey. This behaviour is usually seen in people with Alzheimer’s Disease, but it’s known to be in other forms of Dementia, which we can’t ignore and believe we may see this as an important way of life.
Alzheimer’s disease is not a linear decline but a series of ‘time loops’ and how we can design spaces which respect the individuality of each resident.
Listening to the ‘Third Age Design’ pod on ‘The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Care and Dementia Design’ with Dr David Sheard proved to discuss the potential impact on the design of care facilities and their interiors through Emotional Intelligence. Person-centred care has revolutionary care in a positive change in helping patients to understand the needs of the individual. Emotional Intelligence is an area of study in which Dr David Sheard has invested in research that he believes has a positive impact on the care that can help Dementia patients live a quality of life.
The ability to express and control emotions is essential, but so is the ability to understand, interpret, and respond to the emotions of others. Many experts suggest that emotional intelligence is more important than IQ for success in life.
The signs of Emotional Intelligence are as follows:
- An ability to identify and describe what people are feeling
- An awareness of personal strengths and limitations
- Self-confidence and self-acceptance
- The ability to let go of mistakes
- An ability to accept and embrace change
- A strong sense of curiosity, particularly about other people
- Feelings of empathy and concern for others
- Showing sensitivity to the feelings of other people
- Accepting responsibility for mistakes
- The ability to manage emotions in difficult situations
Emotional Intelligence is measured through a number of different assessments there are two types of tests known as self-report test and the ability test. The easiest of the two to administer and score is the self-report test, respondents respond to questions or statements by rating their own behaviours. The ability tests require people to demonstrate their abilities, which are then rated by a third party.
Emotional intelligence is better for emotional understanding and management there are 5 key skills to help with abilities to recognise, interpret and regulate your emotions. These emotions are linked to a range of benefits including higher academic achievement, better decision-making and greater overall success in life.
The five components are self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy and motivation. Having these skills can have a positive effect on a person’s life and understanding emotional intelligence can direct the way we can employ great carers and educate communities to help people have the best quality of life.
Emotional intelligence and patient-centred care journal for further research.