Research

On this page you can view the research work conducted in the context of Dementia & Technology, as part of the centre of expertise at the various departments involved.

Currently this page is under construction, more research collaborations, projects, results and papers will be added.

Develop a dementia simulator with help of the Empathic Handover approach

Effectively empathizing with people with dementia is challenging. Especially, when not all designers are able to encounter these vulnerable users themselves due to resource problems (time and budget) and ethical considerations (user burden, designers’ capacity). Therefore, we developed the Empathic Handover approach. This approach supports multi-disciplinary design teams in transferring and translating user insights from a principal designer, who executed the user research with people living with dementia, to members of the design team who could not. The positive evaluation of the dementia simulator (www.intodmentia.com) led us to conclude that our effective approach not only guided the team by offering a practical, cheap and coherent process, but also enabled individual team members to be receptive, inclusive and committed towards users they did not meet. Design attitudes that are seen as important meta-principles in design and support empathizing.

This paper is published in CoDesign, the International Journal of co-creation in Design and the Arts (2017). 

* Empathy with people with dementia is important for meaningful design
* Empathic Handover workshops facilitated by a Principal Designer empathize others
* Handover workshops enable team members to use their own experience
* The wise application of this first-person perspective is a major contributor to design, especially in projects that require great sensitivity
* Team member become receptive, inclusive and committed to people with dementia

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Mediated Touch

The sense of touch is the most basic and profound in our lives. It is the first sense to develop in the womb, and remains important throughout the lifespan. Affiliative interpersonal touch has significant health effects, and is critical for healthy development. In old age, even as the touch modality suffers from age-related decline in sensitivity, the importance of social touch for a person’s mental health and wellbeing remains undiminished. In our work, we are exploring the touch needs and preferences of seniors and people with dementia, and hope to identify opportunities and requirements for the design of social touch artefacts that will support seniors, both with and without dementia, in fulfilling their touch needs.

One avenue that we would like to explore in this context is the extent to which communication technology can play a positive role in alleviating loneliness, stress and anxiety, especially for senior citizens and people suffering from dementia. Our focus on improving the quality of life for seniors with and without dementia has the potential to inspire a challenging set of design constraints and considerations that need to be met. Working with groups of vulnerable people poses stringent requirements on both the process and products of research and design. We expect that this work will offer both refreshing as well as sobering perspectives on the design of artefacts aimed to support mediated social touch.

This work is part of the ongoing PhD of ir. Ans Tummers-Heemels.