HOSPITAbLe – critical design and the domestication of healthcare

The challenges society faces in providing future healthcare suggests radical changes to the way health services are delivered and the way we engage with them. There is recognition that this is likely to demand more self-care and a shift of care from hospital to our home. The home and hospital bring together very different cultural practices and environments and the inexorable geographical shift in care has potential to impact on our physical and emotional relationship with our home space. These cultural practices/experiences can be mediated through objects, which in turn can provide vehicles through which to gain understanding of the richness and complexity of people’s lives. The research draws on the value of ‘thinking with things’ as a method and central to this is the notion of exhibition as a research tool that becomes a meeting space that enables this to happen. Exhibition provides a theatre for conversation and becomes the medium and method for data collection and creates the conduit, through which societal assumptions relating to ageing and healthcare care can be made visible, explored and challenged. From a critical design position we propose artefacts through structured engagement with individuals and communities might help develop insights and inform responses to the complex challenges facing current healthcare services.