Co-designing with people living with dementia

A diagnosis of dementia used to mean staying home and being cared for. Those who work in the area of dementia are doing their best to change this view. But is the design community prepared to embrace people living with dementia? Paul Rogers reports in Co-designing with people living with dementia disruptive design interventions to break the cycle of well-formed opinions and mindsets. The co-design method has provided ways for people with dementia to continue contributing to society and have fulfilling lives.

The co-design project was to create a new tartan design. Each person with dementia directed the researcher to co-create their digital design one colour at a time.

A tartan from the research paper with orange and green colouring. Co-designing with people with dementia.

The paper describes the process in detail. The Disrupting Dementia tartan project shows how co-design methods and tools can enable people living with dementia to make a significant contribution to society after diagnosis. Although dementia changes some aspects of a person, it does not affect their sense of self. Projects such as these not only inform designers, they also give a sense of inclusion and belonging to people with dementia.

From the abstract

This paper illustrates methods for co-designing with people living with dementia in developing a mass-produced product. The research was carried out in collaboration with Alzheimer Scotland using a range of disruptive design interventions. The aim was to break the cycle of we-formed opinions, mindsets, and ways-of-doing that remain unchallenged. The research has resulted in co-designed interventions to help change the perception of dementia.

People living with dementia can offer much to UK society after diagnosis. Co-designed activities and interventions help reconnect people recently diagnosed with dementia to help build their self-esteem, identity and dignity. Co-design processes help keep people with dementia connected to their community, thus delaying the need for formal support,

We worked collaboratively with over 130 people with dementia across Scotland in the co-design and development of a new tartan. The paper concludes with recommendations for researchers when co-designing with people living with dementia.

Altering design mindsets

Breaking Well-Formed Opinions and Mindsets by Designing with People Living with Dementia is a similar paper. You will need institutional access for a free read, or access via ResearchGate.

The paper reports on three design interventions using co-design activities with people diagnosed with dementia. The interventions offer innovations for co-designing with this group.

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