Designing for dementia using personas

An older woman sits at a table in a room with a tv behind her.Asking users directly is the best way to find out which designs work best.  But when that is not feasible, perhaps personas can help. That’s the claim by a group of researchers who want to help architects and designers to create meaningful public places and spaces inclusive of people with dementia. The process of developing personas proved to be complex and difficult. This is not surprising because dementia affects different people in different ways. The full chapter is via Springer and requires institutional access for a free read. However, it’s possible to get a copy via the ResearchGate route.

The title of the paper is, Developing Dementia Personas for User Centered Architectural Design Considerations in Non-specialized Contexts

Abstract: This paper is concerned with dementia persona development as a research and design tool to help architects and designers to uncover important information towards design processes and decisions in practice. Architects design spaces for specific functions, but do they truly consider integrating these objectives with a focus on creating meaningful spaces for people with dementia while designing and if so, on what grounds. The reason for using dementia personas and not directly approaching people with dementia is due to the fact that it can be very hard to understand the needs of dementia care as people with dementia are dependent on caregivers and family members, in addition to this many designers and architects do not have ethical clearance to work with people living with dementia; as a consequence of their designation. A literature analysis and participatory workshops were used to develop the dementia personas discussed in this paper. The process of developing dementia personas posed many challenges; iterative revisions had to be made to make the personas relatable and concrete enough to be used as a successful design tool. The complex context of the case requires more personas to represent the diversity of persons with dementia in the service provision on different levels and this is the start of the persona development process. The findings are reported herein.