The Design to Care research led to the development of the Life Café, a product comprising of curated creative activities which enables individuals to engage in conversation about end of life. The product was adopted by Marie Curie to support a national programme of work to promote wellbeing by engendering conversations about end of life.
This programme of Marie Curie funded research was in response to the recognition that existing palliative and end of life care services are not equipped to cope with an increasing number of individuals who are dying from multiple complex conditions. Previous design research focused on environmental design with repeated studies highlighting a paucity of design research in relation to improving services (Borgstrom, 2018).
Craig concentrated on the needs of the community, adopting a public health approach aligned to the compassionate communities movement. This is the first design-led research study of its kind.
Taking the method of ‘exhibition in a box’, a form of object elicitation developed by Chamberlain and Craig (2013) as the starting point this study curated a series of creative activities, named the ‘Life Café’ to scaffold thinking and to prompt conversation. A total of 141 people were recruited for the study from community groups and faith-based organisations. Themes generated from the research were embodied in objects and images. These in turn formed tools and crafted activities within the Life Café. This set of creative tools enables community living individuals to talk about their experiences, hopes and wishes in the context of care and particularly end of life care.
This research has been disseminated through peer-reviewed articles, national and international conferences and has featured in national press. It is used in universities in the UK, Malta, Switzerland and Canada.