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LAUGH research project

Lead service provider/commissioner


Cardiff Metropolitan University

Type of knowledge

Type of knowledge:

Project evaluation

Type of evaluation:

Outcome evaluation; Focus group; Interviews

Prevention service description

Phase 1 of the project ran from April 2015-2018 and was led by Prof Cathy Treadaway (Principal Investigator) Cardiff Metropolitan University and was an international collaboration between University of Technology Sydney, Coventry University and Pobl Gwalia Care and Support (one of the largest social care providers in South Wales). Over 170 participants and 70+ organisations were involved in phase 1. Participatory workshops were held with participants from interdisciplinary backgrounds including (Health and care professionals, psychologists, designers, artists, technologists, charity representatives, art/music/occupational therapists, relatives and family members) and with representations from the Advisory Group that included (Ageing Well in Wales, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, My Home Life Cymru, Alzheimer’s Society and SURPs members, Age Cymru, Dementia Positive and DEEP).

The workshops explored the following themes: playfulness and hand use; craft and making; memory and positive emotion; design concept stages and evaluation of prototypes. The research team worked closely with two Pobl Gwalia Care and Support care homes and intimately with eight people living with advanced dementia and their families and carers (between 3-5 people per person living with dementia) to develop ‘Portraits’ of the people living with dementia. These were used by the design team (Treadaway, Fennell and Taylor) to develop 7 prototype LAUGH playful objects most incorporating electronics to extend the sensory properties and which enabled the object to be highly personalised. Three examples of objects created during the project include: ‘Hug’ - a long-armed, soft cushion-like wearable object developed, with the hands and feet weighted to replicate the sensation of a hug developed for a lady at the end stages of dementia; ‘steering wheel’ - an imitation steering wheel designed and created for a male resident who had worked as a car mechanic and had loved driving throughout his active life; and ‘fidget jewellery’ - four pieces of bespoke hand-held jewellery were designed for a resident who particularly liked beads and had enjoyed craft activities like sewing and knitting throughout her active life. People living with advanced dementia often gain great pleasure from fiddling with physical objects, as the sensory properties are satisfying, soothing and can help calm agitation.

Intervention/service type:

Information and advice; Carers support; Self-care

Target client group(s):

Older people; Carers

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