Designing for care, with care

September 3, 2020

It feels quite obvious to mention the fact that this year has made me think a lot more about care. Health care, self care, caring for people from afar, caring for our spaces, neighbors, the teller helping you at the grocery store. During the pandemic, I’ve framed care with a sense of urgency, its ever-presence defined by an overwhelming need for action.

And to top it all off, working in the healthcare sector now means most days I’m thinking about designing for care. There’s an obvious need for designing care systems and services with the people who will navigate them. I’m finding both solace and inspiration from some of the work that has already been done in this area.


Understanding the experiences of young people as they 'leave care'

This meant we were continuing to collaborate with young people and involve them in our decision-making, not just the research.

This is part 3 of a series in which Amy describes Barnado’s journey through discovery research. You could start with part 1, but what I enjoyed about part 3 was how the service designers moved beyond simply doing research with young people, to working collaboratively through the next stage in the design process, choosing where to go next.

HairStory and Ontario's Systems of Care

With each iteration of the design, the young people saw their voices reflected in its evolution.

After realizing that many services who provide care for children around Ontario were ill-prepared in caring for Black hair, the HairStory initiative was born. Over 100 Black young people shared their experiences living in various systems of care and gathered ideas about how they wished to see changes in these systems. The stories, art, recommendations… the whole report was co-designed by young people.

"It's nothing like a broken leg"

It is there when you are asked the same questions by 20 professionals, in a time of great distress, and then reprimanded for anger when you snap the 21st time.

There’s not a word about design in here, but still, I’m sure you’ll see why it feels imperative for any designer working in healthcare to read Hannah’s piece. This is raw, emotional, angry and poignant. Hannah describes the nuances of the mental health “conversation.”


As Sarah McCarry said:

What I am trying to say is that we already know how to take care of each other in a crisis, friends and strangers alike; we have been doing it all of our lives.

This was originally published on my newsletter, Design With. It was archived in 2023.