Discovering Dementia book launch

Today Lab4Living launches a new book, aimed at people recently diagnosed with dementia, which is more akin to visual poetry than the usual way that information about the condition is provided. Discovering Dementia is the result of a collaboration between design researcher, Claire Craig, poet John Killick and artist Sophie Standing.

‘Discovering Dementia’. Illustration by Sophie Standing © Lab4Living

Claire and John had for some time recognised that whilst so often emphasis is placed on the importance of focusing on the person living with dementia, there is still a tendency to view dementia through a medical lens. As a consequence, the social and psychological aspects that are just as significant as the medical can be lost.

Funding through Research England offered an opportunity to create a counterpoise to this overly medical discourse. The outcome of the work is a book comprising of beautiful illustrations which take the reader on a visual journey.

‘the language used by people with dementia is a metaphorical one – where what they say doesn’t make sense in their usual literal way but has a poetic or symbolic meaning.’ 

‘Discovering Dementia’. Illustration by Sophie Standing © Lab4Living

Professor Claire Craig co-director of Lab4Living says,

‘Design and the arts have an important role to play in how dementia is portrayed and understood. Stigmatising products, and certain media representations of individuals living with dementia serve to reinforce negative stereotypes which can undermine self-hood. Our hope is that this book will challenge existing genres of publication, providing an alternative picture of hope and potential.’

The book is launched at a virtual event today which brings together representatives from key networks and organisations in dementia care. One hundred copies of the book have been sent out, and feedback from people with dementia, families and clinicians is currently being collected. A larger print run and public launch event are being planned for later this year.

‘Discovering Dementia’. Illustration by Sophie Standing © Lab4Living

This work sits within a larger body of research undertaken by Lab4Living focused on the 100 year life and the future home. Recent work includes Dr Claire Craig and Helen Fisher collaboration with Alzheimer Scotland in response to the the COVID pandemic through which they developed Dementia Together Online, a website of support materials for ways of living well with dementia at home.

For more information about the project please contact Claire Craig: c [dot] craig [at] shu [dot] ac [dot] uk