Design4Health – The 24-hour Design Challenge

24 hours is a long time to be working, especially on a tough subject and in a genuinely participatory setting. Still, for the three teams that made up the 24hr Design Challenge participants on the 13th and 14th of July this is exactly what they did.

The Design Challenge ran across the first two days of the 2015 Design4Health conference, including both conference delegates and people who applied to take part solely for the challenge. The three teams were made up of designers, clinicians and Design Partners – people who have lived experience of Parkinson’s Disease (the theme of this year’s Design Challenge).

Parkinson’s Disease, and especially some of the symptoms associated with it are not well understood amongst the general populace. The involuntary movements that some suffer from can be mistaken for drunkenness (as reiterated by one of the Design Partners); Freezing is stigmatising and distressing, and while not all who live with Parkinson’s suffer from this it’s effect cannot be understated; the slowness associated with Parkinson’s is frustrating and upsetting; and the darker side of compulsive behaviour that some face is hidden from the public’s grasp of the disease. In short, Parkinson’s Disease presents significant challenges for a person to live with- including of course their nearest and dearest.

This is why in this challenge, the views of people living with Parkinson’s and those who care for someone who does were involved. Each team had two Design Partners – one who lived with the disease and one who cared for that person.

As well as the lived experience of Parkinson’s Disease, it was of course necessary to include the professional experience of clinicians who work with the disease. As such, two clinicians were interviewed in order to write the briefing document for the event (many thanks to Joanne Rose, Parkinson’s Disease Nurse Specialist and Paula Howland, Co-Team Lead of the Care Homes Service- both at Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust), with two clinicians taking part in the challenge.

The designers for the teams came from a multitude of countries – hailing from India, The Netherlands, Italy (and the UK, amongst others!) – adding additional essential viewpoints.

With any challenge good leadership is a must. In this regard, we were very fortunate indeed to have three very talented designers leading the teams. Ben Mortimer, Design Manager at Nestlé came from York to lead a team; John Bateson of Bateson Studio came from London; and Valerie Carr, Creative Director and Lead Service Designer at Snook came from Glasgow.

Whenever an event such as this is hosted, the quality of the outputs has to be seen to be believed. It is truly amazing to see what can happen in 24 hours, and it is testament to the hard work of all of the attendees that the project outputs were of such high quality (as evidenced by the nearly two hour discussion by the judges!).

Highlighted below are the Teams, and their projects.

Team 1 – Pace

Emily Boniface, Peter MacQueen, Luke Davis, Ross Taylor, Sharon Kerr & Duncan Kerr (Design Partners), Kyoko Murata, Amina Pereno, Matt Simms, Sudhakar Nadkarni, Anuja Agarwal, Paula Howland (Clinician), and Ben Mortimer (Team Lead).

Team 1 came up with a low-cost concept to help manage Freezing – by taking a genuinely Inclusive approach to design they created a product that has applications beyond Parkinson’s alone – the product is directly applicable to athletes. Team 1 created Pace – a personal metronome, easily configured by the user – with even the packaging and branding designed by the team in 24 hours. Part of the presentation included the video below.

Team 1 won the Kyoto Design Lab Innovation Prize.

Team 2 – SlowGo

Jessica Fox, Lynn Telford & Rick Telford (Design Partners), John Bateson (Team Lead), Igor Dydykin, Penny Tiffney, Nick Dulake, Lígia Lopes, Lee Credgington, and Sandy Walker (not pictured – Ragini Mohanty)

Team 2 took a markedly different direction from the other two teams, in that they designed an experience – a piece of service design that slowed the pace of certain activities. Slowness is one of the main symptoms of Parkinson’s, and at a supermarket checkout, busy café, or airport security (to name a few examples) this causes significant anxiety and stigma. SlowGo is a service with a brand that is independent of supermarket providers, cafés and airport security operators – a service provider that is subscribed to by those operators to entice people who appreciate having a bit more time to complete these tasks.

SlowGo is inclusive – it benefits families with toddlers, people with disabilities, older people, or even just people who don’t feel like rushing.

SlowGo won the JRI Orthopaedics Judge’s award for the innovative approach shown over the 24hr Design Challenge.

Team 3 – PulsePal

Charlotte MacRae, Thomas Fisher, Laura Malan, Valarie Carr (Team Lead), Hester van Zuthem, Heath Read, Claire Keeley (Clinician), Chris Iveson, Ali Finlayson, and Jane Finlayson (Design Partners)

Team 3 developed PulsePal, a hardware / software combination that aimed to improve the self-management of Freezing for those who live with Parkinson’s. It is testament to the problem that freezing poses that two of the three teams competing chose to focus on it!

The hardware proposed by Team 3 included a technology to gently squeeze the wearer’s arm (simulating a person’s grip), as well as vibrate. The device pairs with a smartphone, allowing customisation of the vibration strength and frequency, as well as being able to record ancillary information about freezing incidents… to allow the wearer to sport patterns.

Team 3 won the Devices for Dignity People’s Choice award – voted for by the delegates of the Design 4 Health conference.

We would like to recognise and thank the efforts of all of the participants in this design challenge, as well as the effort and collaboration offered by Prof. Julia Cassim of the Kyoto Design Lab – who originally developed the 24hr Design Challenge format at the Helen Hamlyn Centre of Design (at the Royal College of Art), and used at this event.