How can we enrich the quality of everyday life for people with dementia through sensory experience?
Encouraged by the positive feedback, I started designing the art station. Since many people with dementia are confined to a wheelchair or bed, I wanted the station to be movable and with adjustable height so that one could roll it over a bed. The focal part of the station is two black thermochromic surfaces that react to heat. One becomes colourful and the other transparent, which allows the user to draw on the one, either with hands or different heating tools, and discover hidden pictures underneath the other. The station also has a foldable extension, which can be used for other activities and different sensory objects. I included four lockable drawers, where different supplies for the therapy can be stored. I presented my design to the partners and people in our class, who thought that this was a really interesting approach and that with the right therapy, this could become a very efficient tool in dementia care facilities.
Art station and sensory pillows.
After creating a 3D model, I continued to start building the art station in the 3D workshop at LCC. I was assigned the help of the technician Gregorius Garber, who was really helpful with his knowledge of materials and his building skills. We began by ordering all the supplies, cutting the wood and gluing together the drawers, which was followed by the excruciating three-day process of sanding, which to my back felt like a lifetime. As we were storing some of the leftover wood, we came across an abandoned paint, which I eventually used for my station. As this was an exterior paint, the drying of one layer took more than 24 hours not allowing me to do much work in the two days of our access to the college, but thankfully, LCC decided to grant us daily access to the workshops, which enabled me to work on the station every day. After applying the paint, which was followed by more sanding, gluing and attaching of the legs, we needed to design a partially removable surface for the disappearing thermochromic surface, so that one can change the pictures underneath. I came up with the idea of using magnets to lift the thermochromic surface, thus allowing the exchange of pictures underneath. To achieve that we had to cut grooves in the desktop, which required some improvisation as the workshop did not have the right tools. Nevertheless, with a bit of improvisation and some YouTube tutorials, we were able to achieve the desired effect. After three weeks of hard work the station was finished and we celebrated it with some well-deserved chocolates.
Building the art station prototype.
As I tested the station myself, I realised that when I was testing the prototypes in summer, everybody had warm hands, and that in winter one would need different heating tools to get the full use of the thermochromic surfaces. For that reason, I additionally developed three different heating prototypes to stimulate the blood flow in one’s hands and provide extra options for the use of the thermochromic surfaces.
Art station prototype.