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Participatory Design in Research and Teaching at University alongside People Living with Dementia and Their Carers in the Pre-stationary Sector and Residential Care Facilities

From the book Arts & Dementia

  • Carolin Schreiber


When identifying the everyday problems people living with dementia encounter, their (professional) carers and/or their relatives would likely find it helpful to use a combination of participatory design methods and qualitative field research to understand the specific contexts of the condition and develop creative activities to improve the Quality of Life of the person concerned. It is not easy for inexperienced designers or design students to handle participatory design processes, especially when working with people living with cognitive deficits. When creating a project for designers and their co-designers living with dementia, keeping some pre-established ideas in mind can make the project more successful. Designers can best learn how to take social responsibility and create innovative sustainable solutions, products or services in an open and unbiased process that involves their co-designers as, of course, they are the ones who know the most about how they live. This work is carried out done while ‘on their turf’, which could be codesigner’s private home or a residential care facility. Although the aesthetic quality of these designs has received some criticism, i.e. products or services created in a participatory design process, our research team is convinced that this mindset is the only way to create appropriate solutions for people with very individual needs, such as people living with dementia. Two case studies, one developed in a residential care facility and the other in the private dwelling of a family affected by dementia, show the potential of participatory design processes to help people living with the condition.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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