We surround ourselves with objects on a daily basis, the use of which has become natural to us, yet for some people, it might not be this obvious. In cooperation with Lekker Architects and Lanzavecchia + Wai Studio, Singapore-based Lien Foundation now presents a way to offer a safe and comfortable user experience to our relatives living with dementia, with only a few adjustments. Meet Hack Care!
The initiative named Hack Care debuted in September, in World Alzheimer’s Month. The initiative calls attention to the everyday challenges of those affected by the disease, and what’s even more important: it offers a remarkable toolset for families caring for a relative suffering from dementia at home.
“Living with dementia is daunting and our everyday home environments do not always anticipate or meet the unique needs of people battling cognitive and physical frailty. These challenges can be mitigated with good design that is functional, inspirational and accessible, and shaped by the shared experiences of caregivers who have been on a similar journey” – said Mr Lee Poh Wah, the CEO of Lien Foundation.
But what is this exactly? At first glance, Hack Care’s publication makes us feel as if we were holding an IKEA catalogue in our hands – and not by chance at all, as the creators developed the concept of Hack Care based on the popular Ikea Hack global movement. Starting from the perspective and visual language of the Swedish furniture manufacturer giant, Hack Care’s pages present adjustments that will allow us to redefine IKEA’s furniture while creating a dementia-friendly environment with some effort.
The 240 pages of the book offer more than 50 ideas and tips, focusing on important topics like renovating the spaces at home dedicated for daily rituals and actions, thus facilitating the lives of persons affected by dementia from dining to personal care. The publication offers tips on how to make our furniture more practical or comfortable: the iconic IKEA Poäng armchair, for example, which we can turn into a safe and stable resting station with an extra headrest and armrest. We can also fit the upgraded chair into an IKEA Algot shelf system, and thus create a flexible and comfortable “care corner” in our home. In addition, one can also find tips on how the conscious use of colors and plants can help our loved ones living with dementia navigate and orientate in the space.
Even though the environment-improving tricks are demonstrated on IKEA furniture, Hack Care is much more than this: in addition to all the tips and tricks, it also offers inspiration to readers in the form of the stories, experiences and recommendations of people caring for their loved ones with dementia. Head of Lekker Architects Ong Ker-Shing is personally affected in the matter, as he has been facilitating the everyday life of his father living with dementia for more than ten years. During this time, he realized that, just like him, many caregivers are continuously “hacking” their environment based on their own ideas.
“At home, we observed how my father—through his decline into dementia—was incredibly responsive to changes in his environment, and more importantly, that the manipulation of this environment was really in the hands of us, his family, and not so much in the hands of architects and designers” – Ong explained. “The goal was to help non-designers think like designers, to think like hackers, to make tweaks to the environment in order to make a dementia-friendly home. And for Hack Care to ignite their creativity and flexibility in adjusting the physical environment to improve the way they care” – he added.
Hack Care’s catalogue is freely accessible to anyone, as in addition to its limited hard copy versions, it is also available on this link in an online format.
Our INCLUSIVE article series presents projects that raise awareness to the society-shaping role of design and that promote the social visibility of people with disabilities and their self-determination through the means of inclusive design.