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The link between design and care

The link between design and care

14 October 2014 Written by By Mat Hunter Chief Design Officer, Design Council, 2010-2015

This week we launch our Design for Care programme, aiming to help transform care for the 21st century. But why does care need transforming, and how can design help?

A child born 50 years ago had a one in ten chance of reaching 100, a child born today has a chance greater than one in four. That’s a startling increase in longevity and it’s mostly down to better nutrition, hygiene, healthcare and safety. But whether you live to 70, 80, 90 or 100, for many people those later years are not so happy, either physically or mentally. As our bodies weaken, so can our sense of purpose in life as well as our social networks. 

We have added years to our lives, but now we need to add life to our years.

Too many aspects of life - our work, our homes and the health and care system itself - have not been redesigned to fit these longer lives. Work seems to have the idea that we are either fully productive or else good only for retirement; homes so often fail us when we can no longer climb the stairs or into the bath; the care system seems only to support us when we reach crisis and then the very care itself can hasten our decline. Very little appears to have been designed for the ebb and flow of our capacity, very little appears to have been designed to maintain our thirst for life.

For the past six months we have been developing a vision for how design can contribute to a better way forward, helping to create a care system that is more personalised, more connected and more preventative.

We’ve chosen four themes that we believe will make a difference and together with care professionals, technology companies and others, we will start to put our thoughts into action.

What binds all four themes together is the fact that good design enables and empowers. From banking to bicycles, motorcars to music-players, toasters to telephones, hotels to hairdressers, good design makes things simple so that you can get on with enjoying life.

It should be the same with care.

Design for Care will require the collaboration of designers, public and private sector bodies, and the third sector.

Design for Care is a journey.  It will take time.  It will require the collaboration of designers, public and private sector bodies, and the third sector.

If you think you can contribute to the success of this vision, we would love to hear from you.

Find out more about Design for Care.

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