UCL News


UCL in the News: Inclusive Design Challenge

21 November 2007

Maria Parsons [UCL Mental Health Sciences], director of the London Centre for Dementia Care, challenging designers to think about dementia Can you tell us about the Design Business Association's Inclusive Design Challenge? It's an annual challenge organised by the Royal College of Art Helen Hamlyn Research Centre.

By 2050, more than 1.7 million people in the UK will be affected by dementia, so this year six design companies are asked to address it in ways that can be made mainstream.

What is the brief?

To come up with practical designs to help people with dementia have a better quality of life, as far as possible in their own neighbourhoods. Areas include product design, communications, architecture and interior design, and more conceptual approaches like challenging ageing and mental health.

Will the winner become reality?

I am specialist consultant in dementia at the London Centre for Dementia Care and also specialist adviser for Sanctuary Care - some of the designs for way-finding and signage may be adapted for Sanctuary Care homes.

Is it just about clever ways of designing buildings and objects?

No, it's about addressing the marginalisation of people with dementia, so it's a serious attempt to design products and ideas capable of being mainstreamed - not just quirky.

What can design do to ease or mitigate memory loss?

Wouldn't you like some help to find a misplaced house key, a prompt to tell you what you went upstairs for, sensible signage and landmarks to get out of a new, puzzling shopping mall into the car park?

Can you give any examples of what you would like to see?

At the high end, this week sees the launch of more computer games to improve memory and, of course, satnavs have revolutionised car journeys. Low-tech alternatives, such as removing cupboard doors so food items can be seen, reminds people who have forgotten to eat. …

Mark Gould, 'The Guardian'