Parlours of Wonder Partnership Workshop

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Yesterday, although Valentine’s Day, was an exciting day for the Parlours of Wonder project despite the mood for love clearly evident across the city, because our partners joined us at our department, the Graduate School of Education, at Bristol university, for a workshop focused on sharing our experience of working with objects and technology in care settings, as well as sharing innovative approaches to intergenerational activities. By pooling resources and experience, and consolidating alliances with project partners and beyond, we were especially keen to generate solutions for the ongoing challenges that care staff face when working with volunteers and delivering in-house, intergenerational activities. We hope that yesterday’s workshop marked a step in the right direction and left project partners feeling invigorated and inspired to continue their great work across the region.

…So thank you to all those who came and participated, even on your day off AND on Saint Valentine’s day; we hope you enjoyed the love hearts!

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What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? Do the names we give to projects and collaborative initiatives matter? These may seem like banal or odd questions but they are proving to be important to consider when undertaking a co-designed collaborative project; as we have found out early on in the Parlours of Wonder co-design process.

 

For the last two weeks Bristol University researchers, digital design partners and residents, day centre users and care staff have been coming together for co-design meetings at 3 care settings across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.

 

We all met up to discuss the initial designs for a ‘Parlour of Wonder’ that were created from our initial co-design meetings before Christmas. The responses to the initial design ideas created by Stand + Stare clearly demonstrate that the name ‘Parlour of Wonder’ is not insignificant, rather, it is a name that is far from inconsequential.

 

When Stand + Stare showed assembled care staff, residents and day centre users the initial designs and asked for feedback it was clear that ‘Parlours of Wonder’ conjured something quite specific in each person’s mind and how diverse these expectations were!

 

As a research team we were interested in ‘re-imagining the parlour for the 21st century’ – taking the idea of a ‘cabinet of curiosity’ or ‘wonder room’ but making the design of  this a more inclusive process.  However, for our partners,  the project title ‘Parlours of Wonder’ conjures up domestic spaces circa the 1940s, for others, an image of cabaret and feather boas, whilst for some it’s a playful space crammed full of colourful stuff.  We found  no one was associating the project with a “modern” space.

 

When we introduced our initial ideas one member of the care staff team asked: “This cabinet is a modern style, but presumably you could make it look older?” This question and others like it from other care staff was very revealing about individual expectations that arise from the ‘Parlour of Wonder’ as a project title and concept.

 

So whilst those managers who are setting aside a room within their care setting and those gathered who use the care settings’ services seem to associate ‘Parlours of Wonder’ with something ‘old’, for ourselves and our design partners, these Parlour of Wonder spaces are not necessarily so, for both practical reasons (to accommodate the storage and use of ipads with the Story Creator app) but also related to  ideas of disruptive design, where we see benefit in thinking differently about what care home spaces might look like, feel like and what they might contain within them.

These initial experiences, then, have led us all to wondering whether the name of the project is misleading and has led to expectations the design team feel they cannot fulfil. With this in mind we are all keen to see what evolves from the latest round of co-design meetings with regards to the Parlour of Wonder design itself, but also, were we to change the name of the project, what would be most suitable? …Watch this space!

Below are photos from two of our co-design meetings where the designers, Stand + Stare, are sharing their designs with residents and care staff. The colour red was a popular choice chosen from the Valchromat samples supplied by the designers, who are considering this material in order to make the cabinets to go into each Parlour of Wonder.

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The Parlours of Wonder co-design process has begun!

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Since the project began in November 2016 we have been busy with team meetings at the three partner care settings located in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucester. The aim of these meetings has been to bring together the diverse project partners: designers (Lucy and Barney Heywood), ourselves (academics at the University of Bristol), the care setting manager(s), staff, volunteers and last, but by far from least, the residents or day care visitors themselves, in order to discuss the space within each care setting most appropriate for a Parlour of Wonder.

In our informal meetings we have been keen to hear what the residents and/or day care visitors would like to see in a Parlour of Wonder and what they think one should be. Subsequently, we have been asking them many questions – some could say, too many!

This project values and prioritises the processes of co-design and co-production, meaning, quite simply, we are keen for those who are going to be the users and keepers of a Parlour of Wonder to be deeply involved in the design and production process from the start. We certainly don’t want designers and researchers coming into each care setting imposing what they think those in each care setting would like a Parlour of Wonder to be and look like! However, whilst, our co-design and co-production principles are well meant, in reality, they remain very challenging to implement and maintain (but more on this at a later date).

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Barney is measuring the dimensions of the room identified for a Parlour of Wonder at a care setting in Bristol. He was grateful for a resident’s assistance in this process, whilst Lucy continued asking other residents for their ideas on how the room should be transformed into a Parlour.

So far, much of this co-design process has involved talking with residents in small groups in each care setting and asking them probing questions such as: If you had a room designed for relaxing with visitors what would it look like? What furniture would it contain? What would the walls look like? What furniture is comfortable for you? These questions will help the designers to come up with some mock-up designs that we will then take back to each care setting and ask the staff and residents/day care visitors to comment on. We are aiming to hold these meetings in late January 2017 and we’re all excited about what the designers mock-ups for a Parlour of Wonder might look like…so watch this space!

…Meanwhile, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Welcome to Parlours of Wonder

Welcome to Parlours of Wonder!

We are delighted to welcome you to the Parlours of Wonder project, which aims to co-create and co-develop a new space of discovery, connection, meaning making and mystery in three care settings across Bristol and the wider region, where older people, carers, local community members and families can connect with each other.

We hope to engage multigenerational audiences, in particular working with local  schools, to bring younger people into care settings in order to connect with older people through sharing stories, objects and ideas.

This project is being led by researchers at the  University of Bristol. You are most welcome to contact them and they are keen to hear from school-aged children and younger people who would like to get involved! The researchers are:

Dr Helen Manchester –  helen.manchester@bristol.ac.uk

Dr Hannah Rumble – h.rumble@bristol.ac.uk

The key project partners they will be working with in order to deliver this project are:

Alive!

Stand + Stare

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The StoryCreator app

We will be using an app designed during the Tangible Memories project.

You can download this from the iTunes store:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tangible-memories-story-creator/id1006573343

The Tangible Memories app allows you to tell stories and listen back to them in easy and accessible ways. It has been designed particularly with older people and their carers and families in mind, but can also be used by anyone.

You can create pages that combine a photo, text and an audio recording. These can be viewed within the app or printed out. When printed, the audio recording is represented by a beautiful shell illustration. The scan function within the app recognises the shell on each printed page and, as if by magic, plays back your audio.

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Tangible Memories app and Scarborough Museums Trust

We were delighted recently to be contacted by Emily Nelson at Scarborough Museums Trust. She wanted to talk to us about a project idea they had in which they wanted to use the Tangible Memories StoryCreator app .  We were able to offer Emily advice and will continue to work with them as their project develops. It’s great to see the app being used in different parts of the country.  Emily has sent the following update on their project, ‘Outside the Box’:

Scarborough Museums Trust and social housing provider Yorkshire Coast Homes are pleased to introduce the ‘Outside the Box’ project, a 12 month reminiscence project which will run monthly reminiscence sessions in 10 different community locations across Scarborough. The sessions will be a great chance for the older people in our community to socialise and meet new people, facilitated through objects from the museum’s handling collections, and the remembrance of the past. Each session will also involve young volunteers, who will be offered oral history and reminiscence training. Once funding has been secured to purchase a number of ipads, these young people will be able to use cutting edge technology, in the form of the Tangible Memories Story Creator App, as they record important oral histories from the local community. We are very excited to work alongside the Parlours of Wonder project through using and providing feedback on this wonderful app.

Parlours of Wonder AHRC Follow on Funding awarded

We’re really excited to announce we’ve just been awarded AHRC follow on funding for our ‘Parlours of Wonder’ project.

This new project will enable us to continue the close work with Alive!, Stand + Stare, an app designer and colleagues in care settings to further embed the project outcomes in their practice and in care settings more widely.

Community engagement is increasingly recognised by the care sector and social care commissioners as vital in tackling issues of social isolation in our older populations living in care. Together we will be co-designing engaging community spaces (parlours) where older people can interact with evocative objects and the StoryCreator app to record and share their memories and life histories. This will involve imagining and creating a new space of discovery, connection, meaning making and mystery, rather like the ‘cabinets of curiosity’ or ‘wonder rooms’ of old. Unlike cabinets of curiosity, our ‘Parlours of Wonder’ will not be designed and curated by us as arts and humanities researchers, artists and computer scientists. Our vision is that these spaces will be co-curated by and for residents, care staff, families and community members. Care managers who have been involved in the TMP project believe there is huge potential to use these Parlours of Wonder for community engagement where local school children, community groups and isolated older people will be encouraged to enjoy a cup of tea and a chat or a more formal encounter, sparking questions, connections, new interests or opportunities for contemplation.

The project builds on and further extends our excellent working relationships with Alive! and Blaise Weston Court (an extra care facility[1]) but will extend our activities to engage new multigenerational audiences, outside of the care settings, with our work. We will also engage with new groups including Hanover (a social housing provider), BrunelCare (a care provider), Britannia Centre (a day care facility) and Deerhurst (a large care home specializing in dementia work) and work closely with policy makers and other influencers (Age UK, Bristol City Council and Bristol Ageing Better) to expand the reach of the work. The development of a new Android version of the app will decrease costs and thereby increase access to the app.

 

Our specific aims are:

  1. To co-design an engaging community focused space in 3 different settings (one existing and 2 new settings – a large care home and a day care centre) where older people and others can interact with evocative objects, sparking questions and new interests and use our StoryCreator app together to record and share their ideas, memories and stories.
  1. To co-design, with interactive designers Stand + Stare, a DIY blueprint for any care settings to design their own ‘Parlours of Wonder’ and to use our StoryCreator app effectively within them. This will include ideas for engaging older people in co-designing the rooms and interactive case studies with evaluations of the approaches taken across the 3 sites.
  1. To work alongside Alive! and care home staff to develop multigenerational community engagement activities in the Parlour settings.
  1. To co-design, with Alive!, a training toolkit for care staff to introduce a suite of approaches to engage residents, staff and those in the local community within the Parlours. To include ideas for sustainable staffing models.
  1. To further test and develop the iPad StoryCreator app and create a brand new Android version, enabling us to reach new audiences. Both versions of the app will then be made freely available on the relevant app stores.
  1. To co-curate an exhibition to officially launch the Parlour idea and the app with Alive! and care settings.
  1. To engage policy makers and influencers throughout the project in working together to identify platforms for sharing the value of the work with new local and national care networks.

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