Pioneering design research in health and care

A flavour of our design research in health and care

As well as a home to post-graduate teaching, GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus plays host to a portfolio of pioneering design research. The campus is home to the Experience Lab team, a group of design researchers who are central to the Digital Health and Care Institute.

Lasercut model of a nurse used in a design tool during an Experience Lab

Lasercut model of a nurse used in a design tool during an Experience Lab

So, what does all this mean? Why do designers work in healthcare? What do they do exactly? How does Design make a difference? What is an Experience Lab?

These are just some of the queries raised around the exciting and developing role of Design Innovation. Our design researchers specialise in the discipline which sees them designing beyond products, and into services.

To help explain our work to you, one of our research fellows, Gemma Teal is here to help in the video below. Gemma is an experienced design researcher who has almost a decade of experience working in the area of health and wellbeing. 

Gemma Teal Diabetes Experience Lab

Project lead Gemma Teal during a Digital Diabetes Experience Lab. Image credit: Louise Mather

Before we hear from Gemma, here are some frequently asked questions:

What do our design researchers do?
Our researchers work in many different contexts, from business to healthcare.  They address complex issues through new design practices and bespoke community engagement. Our team research the new qualities of design that are needed to co-create contexts in which people can flourish: at work, in organisations and businesses, in public services and government.

Why is this important in a health and care context?
Gemma and our wider design research team play a core role in the Digital Health and Care Institute (DHI). Across the world, models of health and care are struggling to meet the challenge of our ageing population. Digital health and care interventions are recognised as key to the solution in tackling this. Our design researchers explore and prototype possible solutions to these issues.

What is an example of this in action?
Recently, our team has explored how to innovate the experience of Outpatient departments in hospitals.  The waiting period ahead of an Outpatient appointment was identified as a key area to innovate working with the NHS staff, and those who live with long-term conditions.

“Revolutionising the Outpatient Experience” was a DHI event, which GSA designed and facilitated. This work gave Gemma the idea to innovate the waiting experience.

As our work in DHI continues, Experience labs are continuing to innovate in this area. We are now collaborating with The Scottish Government on The Modern Outpatient strategy. Part of this programme of work will include looking at how to innovate the waiting experience.

Following the DHI event, which involved health and social care staff and a number of projects that explored experiences of people living with long-term conditions, the team held an internal prototyping workshop to give form to the insights and ideas generated. Their aim was to develop prototypes that respond to the identified need to reduce patient anxiety and prepare them to get the most from their appointment. 

The prototypes designed on the day will feed into the ongoing project, which includes:

  • Interviews with people with lived experiences of Outpatient care
  • A series of co-design sessions
  • A pop-up public engagement tool

…All designed to inspire meaningful conversations around aspirations for care with people who use Outpatients services.

Watch our Experience Lab team in action
Here, and with some help from Gemma, you can watch our designers at work together at the GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus:

GSA Experience Lab team at work! from The Glasgow School of Art on Vimeo.

 

If you’d like more information about our previous work on Revolutionising the Outpatient experience you can read the report online.

To find out more about our portfolio of research please visit our website.


Tool Stories: Comic Book


From tool to artefact and beyond

In the latest Tool Stories blog, design researcher Sneha Raman shares a tool from the Game Jam project and explores its journey from tool to artefact and back to tool.

Game Jam worked with a group of young people with learning difficulties and sought to create design requirements for a learning/educational game to encourage safe practice online. A series of five labs explored different aspects of the game and included activities such as story-sharing and mapping learning needs.

The design of tools was particularly important in helping to shape engagement tailored to the group. One was a comic book, which provided scenarios to encourage participants to think about areas of risk online and ways of overcoming those problems.

Sneha Raman comic book

Design researcher Sneha Raman with the Comic Book tool. Image credit: Hannah Laycock

Sneha takes up the story of how the tool was used:

“The nature of the group that we were working with definitely influenced the aesthetic and the language of the tool. We had to think about making things visual and engaging, keeping text simple, keeping the language simple… more everyday language or casual tone.

“I think it was effective because of the aesthetic. The general idea behind a comic strip is more light-hearted and that made the prospect of talking about some of these challenges less threatening to the participants. They didn’t feel judged in expressing or sharing some of their experiences using this tool.

“… it (the comic book) transitions between being a tool and an artefact. As the activity progressed, participants started to respond to some of the problems and build onto the scenario presented in the comic strip. The tool captured all their new ideas and thoughts. I think that’s how it became an artefact.

Comic Book in lab

Close-up of the Comic Book being used in the Game Jam Lab. Image credit: Louise Mather

“The artefact was brought back to a subsequent lab with the same audience. Here, it acted as a tool because participants were asked to then think of ways that these solutions could be incorporated into the learning game that they were designing.

“We consistently brought back the artefacts created in previous labs to the next ones. Overall it helped to create continuity but also gave a sense of being valued and having important role to play in the process.”

Read more about the project and the use of the tool here:

– radar.gsa.ac.uk/4857/
– radar.gsa.ac.uk/5285/
– radar.gsa.ac.uk/5192/

 


Tool Stories: Music Box


Supporting interaction

The second of our Tool Stories series features a tool made one of our design researchers, Jeroen Blom.

He was part of the team working on The Box project, which aimed to develop a flexible and creative way in which to make the delivery of therapy-based musical interactions achievable for all, regardless of musical ability. Initiated by BW & FM Sherret Ltd, a company based in Nairn, The Box project was supported technically and creatively by the University of the Highlands and Islands and The Glasgow School of Art, working in partnership.

The Experience Labs team visited a primary school unit for children with various complex needs, as well as a children’s hospice. Various musical interaction tools were created, one of which was a music box that played four different sounds – drums, guitar, bells and organ – with the tone changing depending on how hard the coloured pads were pressed.

Music box

One of the musical devices made for The Box project. Image credit: Hannah Laycock.

Here, Jeroen tells the InDI blog how the tool was used by the children:

“Some of the children couldn’t move any limbs but because the object vibrates, a parent can put it on a leg or an arm, or the tummy, and press it. Since there is a clear link between sound and vibration, the children understand that if someone does something to it, it vibrates and that’s what you feel and that’s what you hear.

“The shape seemed suitable because it’s a nice shape for two people to hold.  Using different colours was something that came from the observations done before. Clearly the children like the visual stimuli so different colours means different things.

“As a thing to support and trigger interaction, the musical tool worked really well. We gave it to them and said if you press that it makes sounds and it will vibrate and they understand that. There’s nothing more to it but they were still using it for 10 or 15 minutes because they liked the vibration and they liked to do something to each other or with each other. That was a real sign that even though that particular musical tool is a very simple thing and not going to be an end solution, it’s already something that people value for their own interaction.

“There were two little girls who didn’t have any motor skills or any verbal interaction. It was difficult for me to read in them how they were feeling. But I saw their eyes light up at some points, particularly with the bell sound that they liked a lot. When their mum figured that out, she just kept closer and kept playing with the bell sound.

“It’s up to the people to find the real meaning in the interaction and the girls looked at it and smiled: it’s those meaningful moments that you want your tool to offer. You can then see what they respond to and that’s what you want to focus more on in the next iteration.”

Music device components

The music device and its various components. Image credit: Hannah Laycock

 

You can find out more about the work of our Design Innovation researchers here.


Tool Stories: Swallows


Capturing conversations

Design researcher Leigh-Anne Hepburn is the first to pick a tool from the Experience Labs for our Tool Stories series.

Leigh-Anne led the recent Crossreach Confidential Connections project. Crossreach is a charity providing counselling services across Scotland. Their main centres are in the central belt, although they have outreach posts in other areas, including the Highlands and Islands, and Moray. Due to increasing demand for perinatal depression counselling, Crossreach wishes to consider opportunities for using digital technology to deliver services.

The Labs explored the experience of counselling, from the perspective of both people experiencing perinatal depression and counsellor. Participants’ experiences were recorded using specially designed tools bearing the image of a swallow.

Here, Leigh-Anne describes the tool and the effect it had on participants.

Design researcher Leigh-Anne Hepburn with swallow cards

Design researcher Leigh-Anne Hepburn with some of the items from the CrossReach project. Image credit: Hannah Laycock.

“For Crossreach, we were looking for something that represented a journey. We came up with the idea of the swallow.

“It has a lot of cultural interpretations. It’s used in seafaring – sailors used to get tattoos for every 5,000 miles of a journey. But there are also other interpretations: freedom, motherhood, faith, steadiness and lifelong partnership. Those interpretations fitted in quite well with the Crossreach values and about that journey through a counselling experience.

“We laser-cut swallow tags and while participants were sharing their experiences, we used the swallows to capture conversations. The swallows were hung in a row so that as well as people sharing, their stories were visualised. Everything that went up on the line became shared knowledge.

“We asked both groups, health professionals and past service users, to map their journey of experience through the counselling service. We used the swallows to map the points of interaction with the service and what it felt like for them. The swallows represented each point of their journey.

“As well as acting as a prompt to begin conversations and sharing of experiences, the tool worked to break down barriers. Because the Crossreach project tackled a very sensitive topic, it was often challenging for participants. This was perhaps the first time they had recounted their own personal experience. They were going back to a point in their lives that was challenging and something they hadn’t revisited in a long time.

“I feel the tools enabled them to do that in a much more careful and considered way.”

Swallow templates Crossreach

Participants filled in the swallow templates and hung them on a line. Image credit: Hannah Laycock

Read more about the Experience Labs on our Research pages.


Introducing Design Tools


What is a design tool?

Our Experience Labs team has worked on more than 20 digital health projects in the past three years, covering subjects such as diabetes, back pain, counselling and Internet safety.

The Labs were developed by InDI and are a central element in the Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI), a Scottish Innovation Centre funded by the Scottish Funding Council, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Because each topic and group of participants is different, the design researchers create special tools to use in each workshop. These are designed to engage participants and encourage them to share their own experiences.

In a series of blogs, called Tool Stories, members of the Experience Labs team reflect on some of these bespoke tools and why they were so effective.

Blank swallow cards CrossReach

Image credit: Hannah Laycock

But what is a tool?
We asked our design researchers and for this, the first blog, we bring you their definitions. Let us know what you think about the term.

“A tool is something that gives form to thought…we’re trying to capture experiences and asking people to share their stories… The tools help people to visualise that experience because perhaps they can’t do it in a conversation.
Leigh-Anne Hepburn

“A tool is anything that is populated with experiences or thoughts in a session. It moves the conversation beyond a chat, and makes the structure and shape of the process tangible.”
Jeroen Blom

“A tool is something that facilitates engagement and helps people either to think about new ideas or express and share their experiences and ideas. It is anything that helps to articulate and makes tangible the different thoughts and experiences that people bring to the labs.”
Sneha Raman

“A tool is anything we use, whether it be software, hardware, a piece of paper, that facilitates discussion, can be used to record discussion or can be used to provoke some reaction and then discussion.”
Dr Jay Bradley

Until the next blog, you can read more about a different approach to tools on the Leapfrog page and by searching our blogs.


Leapfrog at the Creative Campus


Academic writing and tool sharing

InDI was delighted to welcome the Leapfrog project to the Creative Campus at Forres for their Spring event last month.

Leapfrog is a collaboration between ImaginationLancaster at Lancaster University, and The Institute of Design Innovation at The Glasgow School of Art. It is a £1.2 million, three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project, which aims to transform public sector consultation through design.

The project sees close creative collaboration with Highlands and Islands community partners to design and evaluate new approaches for better engagement.

The visit allowed the Leapfrog team to meet members of the Experience Labs and share stories of design research.

Leapfrog research activity

A research activity during the Leapfrog event at GSA Highlands and Islands.

The Experience Labs were developed by the Institute of Design Innovation at The Glasgow School of Art. They are a central element in the Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI), a Scottish Innovation Centre funded by the Scottish Funding Council, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. They offer a safe and creative environment where researchers, businesses, civic partners and service users can collaborate on innovative solutions to the health and care challenges facing Scottish society.

The collaborative event highlighted some of the contrasts between the two, particularly in how they deal with the issue of tools.

Experience Labs researchers create bespoke tools to use in their workshops. These are designed to encourage interaction and help participants share their stories and experiences of a certain subject. Insights provided by the tools are then analysed by design researchers as they progress the project through the design innovation process.

Leapfrog tool sharing

Leapfrog’s Hayley Alter presenting during a tool sharing session with the Experience Labs.

On the other hand, Leapfrog sets out to work with people to design a tool, which is the outcome of the project. The designed tool is then shared publicly so that other communities can adapt it for their own use.

The Leapfrog team also used the trip north to plan their academic output for the next year, including a publishing timetable and draft abstracts.

Members of both teams found the event useful. You can read more in two blogs on the Leapfrog website:

Leapfrog Spring Internal event: the writing activity;
Leapfrog Spring Internal Event: Designing new tools with the Digital Health Institute.

Writing activity

The writing activity.


Helping you keep well at work


Take part in an Experience Lab

We  are offering a second chance to take part in an Experience Labs project about wellbeing in the workplace.

The Glimpse project investigates ways for people can improve their health through gentle exercise carried out at work.

Taking part in a lab is a great way to help GSA researchers explore a health related challenge that can help people in the future. It also gives you the opportunity to meet our team and find out more about our work.

The Experience Labs are part of the Digital Health & Care Institute, one of Scotland’s Innovation Centres, funded by the Scottish Funding Council.

Lego desk

The team has organised a special collaborative design workshop in Glasgow on Tuesday 28 March, which is open to people with experience of desk-based working. This is the second workshop of the project after a successful session last month.

The partner on the project is Justin Eade, of Glimpse Ltd. Justin is a Workplace Wellbeing Consultant with more than 20 years experience. He hopes that the research will develop ideas for a digital application to counter the effects of sedentary work.

Dr Jay Bradley and Dr Michael Johnson explain more about what the session involves:

“At the first workshop, the participants explored the key issues around wellbeing and exercise within the workplace; the opportunities that exist for exercising at work and the activities they could incorporate into their working day. We now have an understanding of how people might feel about movement for wellbeing in the workplace and what exercises and situations would be preferable for challenging sedentary behaviour.

Dr Jay Bradley speaking at a lab

Dr Jay Bradley leads an Experience Lab. Image credit: Louise Mather

“The second workshop will build on the outcomes of the first. Participants will take part in co-designed prototype development. We will explore ways for people to learn and sustain movement exercises and routines at work.

“All information provided will remain confidential.”

The lab will take place at House for an Art Lover, Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, on Tuesday March 28, from 11am-3pm.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided and reasonable travel expenses will also be paid.

To take part or to for more information, contact Dr Jay Bradley, [email protected] or Dr Michael Johnson, [email protected]


Exercise for wellbeing in the workplace?


Helping desk-based workers keep well

Researchers from the Experience Labs are looking for people to take part in one of their latest projects.

The Glimpse project aims to investigate ways that people can improve their health and wellbeing through gentle exercise carried out at work.

Taking part in a lab is a great way to help GSA researchers explore a health-related challenge that can help people in the future. It also gives you the opportunity to meet our team and find out more about our work.

The team has organised a special collaborative design workshop in Glasgow later this month, which is open to people with experience of desk-based working.

Dr Michael Johnson speaking

Dr Michael Johnson describing an activity during an Experience Lab. Image credit: Louise Mather

Here Dr Jay Bradley and Dr Michael Johnson explain more about what the session involves:

“We are working with Justin Eade, of Glimpse Ltd. Justin is a Workplace Wellbeing Consultant with more than 20 years experience. He hopes that our research will contribute to development ideas for a digital application to counter the effects of sedentary work.

“The whole project involves two Experience Labs that will develop ideas generated by participants. We are looking for people to take part in the first event on February 28.

“The lab will use creative activities to explore how movement for wellbeing can be better incorporated into the workplace to address health concerns. The physical activities involved will be largely gentle movement and light activity – so no one will be asked to do anything too strenuous!

“We will also have group discussions about participants’ own experiences of desk-based work and its effects on health and wellbeing. All information provided will remain confidential.”

A woman's hands doing tai chi

The lab will take place at House for an Art Lover, Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, from 11am-3pm.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided and reasonable travel expenses will also be paid.

To take part or to for more information, contact Dr Jay Bradley, [email protected] or Dr Michael Johnson, [email protected]

You can read more about the Experience Labs by clicking here.


A special visitor to GSA Highlands and Islands


Deputy First Minister John Swinney tours Altyre studios

The GSA Highlands and Islands Creative Campus had a special visitor yesterday as the Deputy First Minister John Swinney toured the facilities outside Forres.

He was accompanied by Moray MSP Richard Lochhead and the pair were shown round the complex by Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam OBE, Deputy Director (Innovation) of the GSA and Director of the Highlands and Islands Creative Campus, and Dr Gordon Hush, Acting Director of InDI.

Among the projects presented to Mr Swinney was the Experience Labs, which has recently worked with local secondary pupils on a campaign to promote breastfeeding. Mr Swinney also heard about the new prosthetic greaves project, which aims to explore the emotional value of different aesthetics for prostheses. He also met MDES and MRES students based at the campus and saw work from the recent Winter School.

You can read more in the press release at www.gsapress.blogspot.co.uk

Tara French and John Swinney with prosthetic greaves

Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Dr Tara French examine items from the Prosthetic Greaves project by Naturally Useful. Image credit: Hannah Laycock


Join our Digital Diabetes Experience Lab!


Exploring self management of diabetes

InDI’s Experience Labs explore innovative and exciting solutions to a range of healthcare issues affecting Scottish society.

They often include looking at how digital technology can be used to improve peoples’ lives and now there’s a chance for you to get involved.

One of the team’s biggest projects to date has been Digital Diabetes, a portfolio of seven promising innovation projects supported by the Digital Health & Care Institute.

Researchers have collaborated with people living with diabetes, carers and health professionals to understand their needs and design new models of service.

Gemma Teal Diabetes Experience Lab

Project lead Gemma Teal during a Digital Diabetes lab. Image credit: Louise Mather

The Experience Lab team has organised a lab in Glasgow later this month and are looking for people to take part. Project lead Gemma Teal tells the InDI blog a bit more.

“The project is looking at how people living with diabetes can be supported in managing their condition using digital technology.

“We’ve already carried out interviews with people living with diabetes, as well as Experience Labs throughout Scotland. The ideas generated will be used to shape future diabetes services and research programmes.

“Our next Experience Lab will be in Glasgow and we’re exploring how visuals can support self management for people living with diabetes.

“We’re looking for people over the age of 16 who manage their condition using insulin.

“The day will involve a three-hour interactive design workshop where you will share your experiences of living with diabetes. Participants will also work together on a design activity.

Diabetes workshop Experience Labs

Researchers have worked with people living with diabetes, carers and health professionals to understand their needs. Image credit: Louise Mather

“We want people to feel comfortable enough to talk about their experiences and help designers to understand how people live with this disease. Any information provided will remain confidential.”

The workshop will be held in Glasgow city centre, on Monday 20th February. Food will be available from 5pm and the workshop will run from 5.30pm-8.30pm. Those taking part will receive a £20 gift voucher as thanks for their participation and reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed.

For more information or to register to take part in the workshop, contact Gemma on 0141 566118 or [email protected] or Tine Thorup, [email protected]