With a digital service we want to help care facilities strengthen the relationship between staff and inhabitants with dementia.

Problem: dementia is on the rise

In Flanders, in 2010, there where 100.000 people with dementia. In 2020, that will be 130.000. How do we guarantee their quality of life?

For a month we immersed ourselves in a care facility in Zonhoven. With researchers of Dementia Lab, designers, and staff, we tested new solutions. During our research we noticed that the staff is under pressure. Their packed schedule often makes it difficult to find the time or energy to get to know the inhabitants. Also, it’s difficult to build relationships with the inhabitants with dementia because they oftentimes have a hard time telling their own story.

That’s a pity, because when caretakers know the inhabitants, it’s easier to help them feel better, resulting in more satisfied caretakers and more efficient care.

How might we help caretakers to be more interested in their patients with dementia?

Solution

Project Prisma is a digital service that helps caregivers see the colorful life of inhabitants. In the service, family members of the inhabitants with dementia have an important role as storytellers. These stories live on in the care facility, helping the caregivers get to know the inhabitants better.

Below are the design principles that we agreed upon with the caretakers (in Dutch).

These screens are from the app that the caregivers use every day to get to know the stories of the patients.

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The family plays a crucial role. They are invited to tell the story of their beloved one. Also, there’s a feedback loop: they can see new stories that happen in the caretake facility.

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Next step: open summer of code

We’ll continue working on project Prisma this summer, during the Open Summer of Code. It’s an initiative that supports a new generation of designers and entrepreneurs to solve problems that matter.

During one month, we’ll create a functional version of the software with a team of four talented students. The solution will be open-source, meaning that other programmers can continue to work on it, even after the project is over.

We’ll keep testing the results with caretake facilities and family members to make sure that the solution is truly valuable.

We owe much gratitude to our benefactors Open knowledge centre Arhus and Heritage Cel Terf for funding this further development of the service.

Project background: video report

For a month I worked in a caretake facility in Zonhoven together with the research team of Dementia Lab. Below are several video reports of what we learned.

The posters that we use to structure our process are from the service design toolkit.

In week two I invited fellow designer Tijs Vrolix to help look for ideas on how to improve the relationship between people with dementia and their caregivers.

In week three we chose the ideas to develop and to test with caregivers and the family of the people with dementia.

Business model

How do we make sure that people can continue working on Prisma? By finding talented people to work on it, and giving them to connections to caretake facilities to make sure that the solution is useful and usable.

In my opinion it starts there. With makers working on the right thing. Not by forming a traditional company with a salesforce. That would be too distracting.

Below I’ve outlined this traditional model, and an open source model where the solution gets created by software enthousiasts. The model used is a variation of the business model canvas where I added a purpose and vision.

In this model the emphasis is on selling the solution to caretake facilities. It’s a traditional software as a service solution. For the cost structure I’ve listed the absolute first minimum that two founders would need to start building the company together.

 

 

This open source model is free to use for everyone. It relies on the enthusiasm of open source developers and designers. Initially they’d work for free, investing their spare time to work on a project with a cause.

To make the project significant and sustainable, it needs budget to pay the project contributors. We could crowd-source the funding of the project via a service like Open Collective. That makes it easy for family members of people with dementia to contribute directly to the project. The team then chooses themselves how to money gets distributed.

Where do we go next?

The following step is to create a proof of concept during the Open Summer of Code, and to test this with family members and personnel of caretake facilities. We’ll document our learnings and open source the software, hoping that we can find enthusiastic makers that want to continue with it.