The book, Discovering Dementia, is the result of a collaboration between Lab4Living design researcher, Dr Claire Craig, illustrator Sophie Standing and poet John Killick.
Funding from Research England gave the team the opportunity to create a new book aimed at people recently diagnosed with dementia, looking at the social and psychological aspects of living with the disease rather than solely the medical aspects.
The book uses imagery and quotations to take the reader on a visual journey, exploring the psychological and emotional effects of dementia. It offers a strong challenge to the existing literature in this field of study, through its portrayal of an alternative picture of hope and potential.
Lab4Living have issued 100 copies of the book to people living with dementia, families of those affected by the disease, and clinicians, with the aim of collecting data on how impactful the book is to those who read it.
A public launch event for the book is planned for later in the year.
Professor Claire Craig, co-director of Lab4Living and the design researcher of Discovering Dementia said: “Design and the arts have an important role to play in how dementia is portrayed and understood. Stigmatising products, and certain media representations of individuals living with dementia serve to reinforce negative stereotypes which can undermine self-hood. Our hope is that this book will challenge existing genres of publication, providing an alternative picture of hope and potential.”
Kath Horner, chair of Sheffield Dementia Action Alliance, said: “I'm looking forward to using it, because the pandemic has meant that we can't go and see people who've got dementia. That was a really important part of what we did and people are deteriorating. So, having something like this will aid the conversations once we're able to start talking to each other again.”
John Killick, the poet behind the book, said: “The book is free and this is important. We want this book to be in people's hands so thanks to Sheffield Hallam University our first printing is free, and we intend that future printings should also be free. We’re hoping to crowdfund this project and that people will apply to us for copies.”
Discovering Dementia is one of numerous projects that Lab4Living has undertaken which is focused on the 100-year life. Dr Claire Craig and Helen Fisher have worked with Alzheimer Scotland to develop Dementia Together Online, a website that enables people to get support with dementia whilst they are forced to stay at home during this pandemic.
For more information about the book, and to discuss funding or sponsorship opportunities please contact Dr Claire Craig via her email address firstname.lastname@example.org.