Facilitating an enjoyable storytelling and reminiscing experience

For my Final Master Project (FMP), Qwiek was my client. Qwiek is a company which innovates in assistive care technologies to improve the overall experience of care for older adults and people with cognitive disabilities. 

In collaboration with them, I have designed Qwiek.book. Qwiek.book is an interactive album for people with dementia, which allows curating, collecting and reliving personal photos and audio fragments. 

Qwiek.book

During my FMP, I have tried to implement as much knowledge gained by the courses and projects throughout the Master program. 

I already had already obtained an understanding of conducting design research within residential care facilities in my M1.2 and M2.1 projects. However, for Qwiek it was very interesting to look at ways to expand their market to the home care environment, as their currently available products are already in almost 1 out of 3 residential care facilities. Moreover, there are way more people with dementia who are still living at home, than there are living in residential care facilities. 

Informal caregivers are vital for the home care environment, and in a lot of cases, they depend on external help to reassure good quality care. A dementia case manager can be seen as an important link between informal caregivers and other caregivers, which is why contact was sought with a case manager.

A person with dementia, together with their informal caregivers go through several phases over time, in which they are introduced to new people and new environments in each stage. Through the contact with various experts in the field, a stakeholder journey map was constructed to identify typical activities, feelings, thoughts, and needs of people with dementia and their informal caregivers in each phase. 

Stakeholder journey map throughout the phases of the dementia continuum

From the moment at which a person is recognized to not be able to live at home anymore, they are likely to move out of their house to a residential care facility. In this instance, information from the person with dementia has to be transferred to formal caregivers. By designing a product that can help this transition, we can support communication from formal caregivers to new residents, and stimulate them to get to know the person behind the resident. By further delving into how the social layers in the home care environment are built up, typical situations in which personal information is transferred were made clear.

Typical situations of information transfers

The table shows various situations in which personal information of the person with dementia is transferred to other parties. By talking to various experts in the field, a better understanding was gained of how this information was saved and shared. The personal information that is gathered by stakeholders such as dementia case managers, day care staff and residential care staff is not always easily, or not at all times accessible to trusted related parties. Also, the privacy of people with dementia should always be insured, which is one reason that this information may not be accessible at all times. 

This led to the initial concept of Qwiek.book. By using scenario based design, a clear idea was gained of how Qwiek.book should be introduced to people with dementia and their caregivers, and what functionalities it should have. Then, a user evaluation was set up using the co-constructing stories method. Participants of the user evaluation were able to tell their own story, and were presented with the scenarios, so they could comment on the features of Qwiek.book. 

Concept sketches

Envisioned users commented on the recognition in the presented scenarios, added value of Qwiek.book, their retrospective envisioned use, and other design-related comments. Then, a final concept sketch was made, and by creating a low fidelity prototype, the final concept design of Qwiek.book was further illustrated the video below. 

Concept video

The final concept design of Qwiek.book was also presented to the directing board of Qwiek. In this presentation, the value of Qwiek.book was made clear, and how it could help Qwiek to take the first step to expand their product portfolio to the home care environment, enabling more people with dementia and their caregivers to enjoy Qwiek’s products.

An insightful lesson I gained during this FMP was the fact that making and acting out several scenarios of a concept design can help a lot to find out whether it makes sense or not. It helped me understand my own design better and let me think of better ways of implementing different features. Making scenarios felt like a must in this project, as there was no possibility to physically test the design. Through discussions that occured during acting out these scenarios, I got to know my own design, and I was able to find ‘leaks’ in the concept design.

After some time, it became clear that I would be unable to implement the Technology & Realization competency within the FMP, as prototyping becomes hard when the university’s labs are closed. However, I have shown in previous projects that I am capable of creating functional prototypes. Instead, I focused on creating a high quality video for Qwiek to offer them a starting point for broadening their market to the home care environment.  

Completing my FMP during times of corona sure was a challenge. Drastic changes were made to my environment, which made it hard to get things done. For example, recruiting participants for my user evaluation was very hard, as I was unable to physically meet with people and ask them to participate. It is very understandable though, as people have other things on their mind than helping out a student. I am grateful for the people around me who have helped me and motivated me throughout these times. Changes had to be made my initial plans, but I have tried to shift my focus into other activities. In the end, I am proud of the result that I have been able to put together.