Over 600,000 people in the UK suffer from dementia and it is a population that is destined to grow exponentially as the population ages and as improved healthcare prolongs life. Cognitive decline is perhaps the toughest but most interesting question to face the design community and became this year’s theme for the 2008 DBA Inclusive Design Challenge. How can design respond to the needs of those who suffer from memory loss and improve communication and quality of life for them, their families and those who care for them professionally?
Six leading design firms were shortlisted and unveiled their proposals relating to memory, communication and the physical care environment to a capacity audience at the Challenge presentation event the RCA on 18 March 2008. The projects covered products, services, interaction design and visual communication with the teams balanced equally between London and the regions coming from as far afield as Manchester, Basingstoke and Berkhamsted.
Professor Jeremy Myerson, Director ot RCA Helen Hamlyn Centre welcomed the audience and thanked Sanctuary Care for being such a proactive partner. The designers had visited residents and carers in their different care schemes and undertaken the sensitive ethnographic research that is vital to the challenge. Not to be forgotten was Maria Parsons of UCL's London Centre for Dementia Care an international expert in dementia who had mentored the teams. Then it was time for the presentations followed by keynote speaker Lord Darzi of Denham who spoke on the importance of design in the NHS: “What I have seen today is really the true creative nature of where the NHS needs to be.”
Before the announcement of the results, Peter Ashley spoke movingly of his ten-year experience of living with Alzheimers. He represented the HHC’s dedicated network of users.
Then it was the moment of truth as Hazel Macmillan read the judges’ verdicts on each individual project and announced the joint winners – Adare for Mind Book and Judge Gill for Ormsthwaite House. Macmillan praised all the teams for the depth and creativity of their commitment noting that the judges found it ‘a difficult task’ that took several hours of deliberation which was reflected in the result. She presented two ceramic awards commissioned especially for the Challenge from the Danish glassmaker Marie Retpen.
Download a transcript (120KB rtf file) of the event.