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After five years, the Design for Health & Wellbeing Lab project has now come to
an end. 

Whether you worked with us as a designer, researcher, student, patient, family member or hospital staff member, your involvement made a valuable contribution to a project that helped support the health and care of our community.

Thank you to Auckland DHB and AUT for backing an amazing venture. We look forward to continued collaboration and partnership.

Ngā mihi nui,  

The DHW Lab

Make Healthcare Exhibition

To close out 2017, we curated some of our best work to present at the AUT 'AD17' design festival. As we are based in Auckland DHB, it was a great opportunity for students, researchers and external companies to see what we do and how we work at the DHW Lab.


The exhibition was a milestone for us, in that it brought together the best example of our work in the design for health context (including undergraduate and postgraduate projects) and shared our learnings and successes with a broad audience. 


We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who came and visited the exhibit and for the positive feedback on the work that was presented. We are looking forward to what lies ahead in 2018 and will continue to keep you updated here on our blog.

If you aren't already, follow us @dhwlab on twitter and instagram too!



How we turned a problem into an opportunity: Prototyping wayfinding for the hospital main entrance

The hospital has been in the process of refurbishing its main entrance. New retailers, flooring, paint, and consequently, new wayfinding have been a large part of the work. As the area has a high amount of traffic, with over 1 million visitors a year, the refurbishment has been phased over a series of months. As walls get painted, old signs have to come down. Usually, old signage or laminated A3s would go up after the work is complete, to help people find their way before the new signage is installed.

However, the team realised this was a unique opportunity. During this interim phase we are using the time wisely—to test signage at actual size in the coming months before the final installation. These prototypes are in a highly visible and public area, and for most, will be the first demonstration of a more strategic approach to wayfinding on site. 

Thanks to the Facilities team for allowing us to give it a go, and to make sure we've got it right!

Right time, right care, right place

Recently, we worked with the Communications team at Auckland City Hospital to creatively communicate the development of the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU). The CDU is a $9 million dollar facility that will be a first for Auckland City Hospital.


When it is complete the Clinical Decision Unit will be the place where decisions are made about the future care of acute patients. A safe and comfortable facility where patients are assessed away from the emergency department, it will provide a better experience for patients and their whānau.


Our aim for the project was to bring visibility of the build to staff and patients so that they would understand the cause of the disruption and get excited about the facility that was being built.


The hoardings span 70m on Level 2 at Auckland City Hospital and will remain up for the entirety of the build, finishing mid 2018. 


Design for Health: Contributing to the Conversation Abroad


The DHW Lab team recently visited Melbourne for the biannual Design for Health conference, held for the first time in Melbourne. 

Our co-director Steve Reay and Nicola Kayes from PCR (Centre for Person-Centred Research) together were key note speakers, discussing the  realities and nuances of collaboration across design and health. 

Across the three day event, the DHW Lab presented on a broad range of topics – from rethinking products, reimagining patient participation, and redesigning environments. It was an incredible time to have the opportunity to share with international peers about what we've learnt so far in this design for health space. 


Ivana Nakarada-Kordic & Nick Hayes
Designing creActivities: Creative methods to engage young people experiencing psychosis in co-design.

Helen Cunningham
Discourse and collaborative design: exploring a critical approach to community engagement for design insight.

Eden Jayne Short
Designing innovative wayfinding systems in healthcare: from exploratory prototyping to scalable solutions.

Jewel Yan
Playscapes: Pure Ludens.

Reid Douglas
Prototyping an Emotionally Responsive Hospital Environment

Antonio Wan
Designing emotionally resonant aesthetic experiences in healthcare.

Eden Potter
Communicating information in health: Engaging students in design for health awareness.

Charlotte Dickson
Co-designing to understand the tracheostomy product experiences of long-term tracheostomy users.

Guy Collier
Design Anthropology and the Medicalisation of Ageing: Reflections on Designing for Mild Cognitive Impairment.


Workshopping Facility Refurbishments

This project focussed on improving a waiting area at the Cancer and Blood service at Auckland City Hospital. The role of the DHW Lab was to facilitate design workshops with clinical stakeholders and Facilities, with a view to develop refurbishment options to improve the experience for patients and families. Building on existing patient research (carried out by the DHW Lab and Performance Improvement) at the Auckland DHB, patients and families had the opportunity to vote and provide feedback on design concepts.


The focus of the first workshop was to establish a shared understanding of the current waiting room experience, in order to distil a set of guiding design principles for the refurbishment. Together with the patient feedback already gathered, we compiled a set of ‘how might we’ statements. These provocations acted as a ‘design brief’ for translating users needs into concepts.


Using scale models and representative furniture blocks, the second workshop began to bring form to the design principles established in first workshop. Participants experimented with furniture layouts using a scale model—discussing how different configurations would improve the room’s function and the patient experience. 

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In a subsequent activity, the DHW Lab team sourced a range of inspiration images around the themes of: privacy, nature, furniture, and activities/interactions. We asked each other, 'which of these examples might be suitable references for this environment?' Using the models as a basis, the two groups annotated their concepts with visuals and notes. At the conclusion of the workshop, two layouts were presented to the public to provide feedback on.

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The final workshop moved beyond function and layout to explore how the space should look and feel, based on this session the DHW Lab put together a final set of design recommendations to be taken forward by Facilities.  

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