Researcher Blog: Dr Remi Bec – our French mascot on a mission to represent lab4living and design research in Canada

Dr Remi Bec - Canada blog post 1

Welcome to the first in a series of researcher blog posts on Remi Bec’s mission to share his experience of Designing in Health with Canadian researchers.

About the author

After studying model making and space design in France, Remi Bec completed a PhD exploring the use of games to promote physical activity. Following this, Remi was seconded to the Translating Knowledge to Action team (TK2A – part of the Collaboration for Applied Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care in Yorkshire & Humber (CLAHRC YH)) where he was the design researcher lead based at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. He has now returned to Sheffield Hallam University’s Lab4Living where he is leading on the ‘Play‘ theme within the 100-year Life project. 

Aside from his researcher post at Sheffield Hallam University, he is also director, founder of a social enterprise, GoFit4Fun CIC, which delivers services in the community to fight social exclusion and sedentary behaviours through the co-creation and play of games.

Introduction: Co-production, co-design is what we do!

Hello I am Remi Bec, I am a design researcher at Lab4Living and until October 2019, I was the design research lead of the Translating Knowledge into Action team (TK2A), an interdisciplinary cluster based at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital (Sheffield, UK) and gathering nurses and physiotherapists along with a design researcher from Lab4Living.

TK2A looked at translating knowledge that exists in current research as well as the lived experience of key people, such as those running but also receiving health services, commissioners etc.  During the 3 years of working together, we developed a whole range of projects that you can find on the TK2A website.

TK2A team

The ‘Translating Knowledge to Action’ team – an interdisciplinary project funded by CLAHRC SY and Lab4Living (Sheffield, UK)

To understand better what design research can bring to health research, please check out our short TK2A video.

In February / March 2020, I was on my way with my colleague from TK2A, Cheryl Grindell (a physiotherapist by background), to Canada to present the work we conducted over the past 3 years. We began our trip in Vancouver in British Columbia and continued it, crossing the country to land in Montreal, Quebec. We didn’t know then, but we were about to take over Canada and evangelise about Design over the North American continent! 😉

Remi & Cheryl on a mission to Canada

Remi & Cheryl on a mission to Canada

In this post: Exchanging ideas around Knowledge Translation & Knowledge Mobilisation methods at Vancouver’s Michal Smith Foundation

Our first day started by getting familiar with Broadway, one of the many main streets of Vancouver. The beauty in this city is that at every bloc, the off roads gives a sneak view of the mountains in the background (there are actually three ski resorts at about 40 min drive from North Vancouver). We landed at the Michael Smith Foundation in an amazing office that looked across the mountains. It was an inspiring place to begin our first conversations in Vancouver (and we were a bit jealous to know they have a terrace on which they have BBQs in the summer – nice work life!).

Vancouver City Centre from North Vancouver, North Vancouver from Vancouver City Centre, and the Steam Tower in Gastown

Vancouver City Centre from North Vancouver, North Vancouver from Vancouver City Centre, and the Steam Tower in Gastown

We met with Gayle Scarrow, Director, Knowledge Translation, and the Knowledge Translation coordinator, Ugen Lhazin. As the main founders of Health research in British Columbia, they were well informed about other organisations working around Knowledge Mobilisation and Translation. It feels the two are very connected together here in Canada. They even talked to us about the ‘Fuse’ conference in Newcastle (UK) organised by Peter Van Der Graaf, our honorary committee member that took part in our bi-monthly meeting within CLAHRC who is now onto leading the ‘Knowledge mobilisation and implementation science’ theme under the new CLAHRC called ARC (Applied Research Collaborations). Michael Smith Foundation seemed to fund a lot of research that involves collaboration between healthcare professionals as early as possible in the research (eg to define the scope of a research project to then apply for bid writing). However we realised that this collaboration remains mostly in health and there is little space for collaborating from a design research perspective. We therefore started to talk about the design research methods we apply in our practice through referring back to our beautiful freshly printed case studies book.

This case studies book was our tool of choice to share with practitioners we met throughout Canada. It is a selection of 13 case studies and projects that we at TK2A worked on, and an ideal way to share what the design process is, and how it can be applied in Health. Each project shows the design process, the variety of tools and design research we can create, adopt and adapt, and testimonials from people who were involved in the projects. You can find an online version here if you are interested in a PDF 😊.

The case studies book – The front page and a couple of spreads

The case studies book – The front page and a couple of spreads

So back at our meeting with Gayle and Ugen – they were really interested in the work we conducted and our case book worked its magic as it can now be found on the Michael Smith Foundation website, as part of the KT Pathways resources. The section is referred to as “Translating Knowledge into Action Report 2019: Using Creative Methods to co-design better healthcare experiences”.

It was a useful first meeting, and using Michael Smith Foundation’s network and contacts, we were able to get in touch / meet other health care professionals like a physiotherapist (perfect for Cheryl!) during our time in Vancouver.

The Michael Smith Foundation agency logo and their KT pathway resources page that accommodates our case book

The Michael Smith Foundation agency logo and their KT pathway resources page that accommodates our case book

Next time: We meet new people, visit an amazing campus (with two exhibition spaces, an archive library, and a first nation students room) with a breathtaking view, discover Vancouver, BC, develop a first understanding of designing in health in Canada, and the use of drugs on this continent! 

About this blog

This trip to Canada (Vancouver BC, and Montreal, Quebec) was made possible thanks to NIHR CLAHRC (TK2A theme) and Lab4Living (Sheffield Hallam University) in the UK. I, Dr Remi Bec, Design Researcher, relate in this summary my Canadian experience and therefore this entire content is my views and opinions only, not the ones of the funders. I also apologise for some of the content I relate since there might be elements of the stories that might not be fully accurate. Some details might have been forgotten or changed slightly but it is not to better fit my story – it is solely I have exchanged so much and interacted with so many people along the way that my little brain cannot retain it fully!