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NICE Award Nominee Folkwang Lab about "Do we know each other?"

"Do we know each other?" is an interdisciplinary project to improve the quality of life for and together with people with dementia. Prof. Carolin Schreiber of the Folkwang University of the Arts explains the concept.

© Sabrina Hilfer

In your own view, what challenges does your project address?

We are convinced that “real experts” for dementia are people affected by dementia (people with dementia, relatives, caregivers). To invent new solutions to improve the quality of life with dementia, we need interdisciplinary teams of creative people who are brave, empathetic and can transform ideas which were developed in a participatory design process together with the "real experts" in their private sphere. Teaching young people methods of participatory design is essential to react on social challenges (overaging) and could make a sustainable change in product and service development.

In how far do culture and creativity contribute to your project’s innovative and inclusive character?

Bringing students of different nationalities into the context of dementia where you encounter diverse old people, makes it difficult to find a common „language“ and to create realistic and practical solutions. Using open-ended participatory design methods like mockup testing, tangible things, cultural probes and creative observation, helps students and co-creators to communicate their point of view. By using these methods, they invented together: a digital tablet game, music instrument & tool for care givers, a non-digital game, a critical photo campaign to educate about dementia etc.

Please describe the transformative potentials of your project and explain its innovative character.

After the presentation many students started working in daycares, animal shelter, with refugees and deprived neighbours, in hospitals or care facilities using participatory design methods. The analytic-scientific approach and creative-practical knowledge practiced together with non-designers in their private environment is a driving force for an innovative social and practical output. The research team is working on empowering programs for the healthcare and the care giving sector to transfer knowledge from the project and make participatory design methods usable for everyone.

Folkwang University of the Arts is nominated for this year's NICE Award. See the complete shortlist here.