This paper explores the question if and how client-centred communication in long term care can be improved by digital technology and design. The issue is discussed through both literary research and practical design research, through my design for a mobile application "Vinni", aimed to give people with a cognitive disability an easy way to express their opinion. Here the introductory chapter of the paper as a taste.
"My first and foremost love for Interaction Design is the opportunity it gives me in creating amazing things that have an added value for people in their daily lives. Before my study in Interaction Design, I have worked for some time as a nurse aid in care homes for the elderly. During that time, I always felt there was room for improvement for the communication between clients and caregivers. Although I couldn’t exactly describe any speci"c problem, it might be seen as an ‘itch’ I had in the back of my head.
The wish of doing something to improve communication in long term healthcare has been with me ever since. That is why, for my Masters Degree in Design for Digital Cultures, I was determined to design something for communication in long term healthcare. Together with Hilde de Wit, I started a project for long term disability healthcare. My main research question is as follows:
How can Interaction Design be used to improve client-centred communication between caregivers and people with a cognitive disability in long term care?
The end result should be an answer to the following subquestions:
I will attempt to answer these questions through literary research combined with my findings from the project that brings all the design principles in practice: Vinni, a multi-platform communication application for clients and their caregivers, speci"cally designed for care home De Zuiling in Elst, the Netherlands. For the conclusion I will adress the subquestions once more and hopefully I will be able to answer the main question.
In October 2011, Vinni won the iZovator Award for best idea for healthcare in the region of Gooi- en Vechtstreek, the Netherlands. Main selling point was the focus on user-centered design en research. I graduated on this project. My thesis was called "Client-centred communication in Long Term Care: a Design Perspective". Of course I've also conducted extensive research on the do's and don'ts in designing digital applications for people with disabilities, both from a cognitive as well as a physical perspective.