How can we enrich the quality of everyday life for people with dementia through sensory experience?

To test the prototypes, I conducted a workshop with ten participants, all at different stages of dementia. The workshop took place in the care home DEOS, Notranje Gorice, with the help of the director of the home, Ana Petrič, and occupational therapists who usually work with dementia patients in order to ensure a safe and familiar environment. We first introduced the participants to various sensory objects, asked them to try to use them, and then observed what responses they triggered. The most interesting sensory object proved to be the thermochromic surface. This sensory element combines art therapy with sensory experience and enables safe and independent work.

In a half-hour workshop, we tested the drawing surface, dynamic balls, hidden pictures, reflection surfaces and the panda cushion, all of which users found intriguing and interesting. In the end, we asked the participants for their opinion and got a very positive response. All of them said they really enjoyed the tools and the workshop, so that the therapists wanted to keep the prototypes for further use.

Testing the prototypes.

The workshop also gave me some ideas on how to improve and adapt the prototypes in the future: the results of drawing on the thermochromic surface should be visible longer, the heating pads could be adjusted better and the pictures under the thermochromic foil could be changeable. I came up with the idea of designing better adjusted heating pads and a pen with a hot tip and a cold tip, so that it can also function as an erasable pen when drawing on the thermochromic surface. One of the participants expressed a wish to move the balls around the surface, which could also be added to improve the prototype.

Testing the prototypes.

All in all, I believe that the workshop was a success and I really enjoyed bringing a smile to their faces with my design, even if just for half an hour. In the next stage I want to refine the prototypes and send them to Slovenia for further testing, which would hopefully lead to a final product that will be used in the new dementia centre.

Play Video

Workshop video.