Press release

National search for new ideas to improve the lives of people with dementia

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Design Council and the Department of Health launch national dementia challenge.

A national challenge that will fund teams to develop new design-led ideas for products and services that make lives simpler, better and more enjoyable for those with dementia and their carers was launched today by The Design Council and the Department of Health.

Living well with dementia will offer five teams a share of £360,000 alongside professional support to develop working prototypes and business models over the next five months. The challenge is aiming to recruit teams with a variety of expertise, including designers, social entrepreneurs, businesses, service providers, support groups or individuals who may already have good ideas.

The Design Council has launched a social network for those interested, to access extensive research on dementia, meet others to form teams, and download the call for entries visit Design Challenges. Details can also be found on the Design Council website.

Commenting on the project, Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow said:

“Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face as the population ages. It currently affects 750,000 people in the UK and that number is set to double over the next thirty years.

“To make sure we continue to improve health outcomes and manage the growing costs associated with this, we need to think smart and do things differently.

“If diagnosed early and given the right support people with dementia can continue to live well for a number of years. By engaging with businesses and the third sector I hope we will stimulate some creative thinking about how best to help people with dementia get the most out of their lives, rather than just focusing on symptoms.”

The submissions will be judged by an Advisory Board consisting of experts in dementia, health and social care, business and design and chaired by Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of International Longevity Centre.

Baroness Greengross explained what winning ideas the board is looking for:

“Innovative ideas are necessary if we are to meet the real needs of the growing numbers of people with dementia. This new, diverse, mixture of people coming together should give us an exciting set of proposals reflecting the urgency of need and the importance of creativity and innovation in meeting them.”

David Kester, CEO of the Design Council said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for designers, businesses, communities to work on a project that will make such a difference to people’s lives. We can see the stats around the issue but the reality of it is that dementia is something that will and does affect every family in Britain. Previous challenges have shown the impact design plays in addressing difficult social and health issues and I think teams will once again drive the innovation curve.”

Living well with dementia has been welcomed by the Alzheimer’s Society. Chief Executive Jeremy Hughes said:

“We need to see dramatic innovation in all areas of dementia care. Throwing down the gauntlet to such a wide range of experts has the potential to be the catalyst for real change - small or large - which could help transform the lives of the 750,000 people living with dementia in the UK. Dementia can affect anyone. However, with a timely diagnosis and the right help and support people can live well with the condition.”

Living well with dementia follows similar national design challenges run by the Design Council to develop design-led solutions to social and healthcare issues. Recent examples have addressed improving patient privacy and dignity, reducing health care associated infections in wards and a current project:  Reducing violence and aggression in A&E by design.

The closing date for entries is 30 September 2011 with final teams to be announced on the 14th of November 2011.


Notes to editors

  1. To help in the development process, the Design Council has recruited an Advisory Board of highly respected designers, third sector leaders, healthcare experts, carer organisations and social innovators to advise the winning teams during the design and development phase.
  2. The Design Council places design at the heart of growth and renewal in Britain. As one of the world’s leading design institutions, The Design Council is a unified voice for a broad spectrum of design, architecture and public space, placing good design at the heart of social and economic renewal. We demonstrate how design can help build a stronger economy and improve everyday life through practical projects with industry, public services and education.
  3. Read more about the Department of Health’s National Dementia Strategy
  4. To see the design briefs please go to the Design Council website or to register your interest and find out more join Design Challenges
  5. For further information, please contact:
    The Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221
    Andrea Britt, Design Council: 0207 420 5263 / 07747 593255
    Nigel Campbell, Design Council: 0207 420 5282 /