Life Café project extends its reach

The Life Cafe

‘The Life Café. A space to uncover and share what is meaningful in life and in care’

As the Life Café kit is rolled out across the UK and beyond, we explore the programme of design research underpinning its development and some coverage of recent Life Cafés.

The Design to Care Programme was an ambitious research project funded by the charity Marie Curie and has been undertaken over the last two years by Lab4Living’s Claire Craig, Helen Fisher and Paul Chamberlain. The research interrogates the potential of design to reimagine end of life care. Building on the methodology of ‘Exhibition in a box’ (Chamberlain, 2013), over 200 people engaged in the research and this resulted in the development of the Life Café.

The Life Café comprises of a series of curated activities that provide a focus for groups to come together to scaffold thinking and prompt conversation about meaning in life, in care and at end of life. The team have built understanding of the skills required by community living individuals to facilitate the Life Café and the resulting kit is developed in such a way to provide all the materials and instructions required by groups who may wish to deliver this in the community, in care homes, in hospices and hospital settings.

Figurines representing aspects of good care

Figurines representing aspects of good care

Helen and Claire were recently invited to facilitate a Life Café in London as part of the launch of a major campaign by Marie Curie to challenge the taboo that currently surrounds talking about death and dying. The event was reported by the Guardian Newspaper, which recognised the importance of finding methods and approaches to open up this space.

‘Design research offers a great opportunity to do things differently. The Life Café creates a safe space where people can have important conversations about meaning in a relaxed atmosphere.’ Helen Fisher, researcher

Claire added,

‘Through our research we’ve learned that by talking about care and about end of life care we begin to truly understand what is important in life.’

Researchers Dr Claire Craig and Helen Fisher

Researchers Dr Claire Craig and Helen Fisher

The Marie Curie Life Café kit is currently available and can be purchased from Marie Curie. For more details please go to the Life Cafe website or follow the links below.

Further information

‘Charity’s Life Cafe kits aim to help reticent Britons face up to death’, The Guardian, 2 Nov 2019.

‘A look-in on a Life Café by Marie Curie’, Marie Curie blog post, 31 Oct 2019.

Information on how to order the kit: ‘The Life Café. A space to uncover and share what is meaningful in life and in care’

The Life Café: information on the two year programme of research at Lab4Living