Design for Health - Participatory Design - Product Design

Redesigning the Dining Experience for People Living with Dementia

Blum was created as part of OCAD U's Design for Health course held offsite at Baycrest Hospital in 2019. We were tasked with designing assistive products for people living with dementia, their caregivers and families. Our solution sought to reflect the individual abilities, needs and wants of clients and care providers at the Samuel Lunefeld Mountainview Club at Baycrest Hospital. 

Overall, our design intends to help users gain back their independence through this intuitive design, making dining a more enjoyable experience.



Upon conducting observational research at Baycrest's Mountainview Club, a club for clients living with dementia at various stages, as well as informal discussions with Subject Matter Experts working at the facility, our team found an opportunity space surrounding the dining experience. Clients appeared to have trouble eating with Mountainview's current dishes, often pushing food off the dish in an attempt to get it onto the cutlery, which can result in feeling a lack of independence, frustration, and can lead to inadequate nutritional intake. In addition, Mountainview's current dishes are fragile, lack contrast, slide on the table, and do not stimulate an engaging dining experience. 


Blūm is an assistive dining plate that provides people living with dementia with a more physically enabling and mentally stimulating eating experience.


Compared to existing products, operating within a similar market-space, our dish provides multi-modal assistance for users living with dementia as well as limited mobility. Through the form, material choice, and the deliberate application of colour, Blūm provides a less stigmatizing, yet elegant dining experience whether it’s at home or the hospital.


Sydney Cooling-Sturges:

Hadas Green:

Jasmine Khnanishoo:

Colin Lynch:

Form development, CAD modelling, surface finishing, financial minister 

Design researcher, videographer 

Lead presentation creator, design researcher, surface finishing

Lead form developer, CAD modelling, Keyshot renderings, surface finishing


After our design team identified an opportunity space within Mountainview, we asked ourselves "How might we redesign plates for those living with dementia to provide them with an easier and more engaging dining experience?"


Our group conducted a variety of primary, secondary, and observational research in order to ideate a variety of designs that would appropriately address the wants and needs of dementia clients, their healthcare providers, and their family members. Each week, we would create a new, improved prototype iteration based on our research, feedback from Subject Matter Experts, and the use of user simulation tools in order to create the best possible design solution. 

Screenshot (1252)_edited.png

Ageing simulation tools: wrist brace to simulate reduced wrist motion, tinted and fogged glasses to simulate yellowed corneas and blurred vision, and ankle weights used on the lower arm to simulate reduced mobility. 


Empathy - No Assumptions - Ask "why?"


Empathy: I constantly reminded myself "I am designing for people. I am designing to improve their experience. This is for them and they are a person. They want dignity and independence just the way I do. They deserve dignity and independence." This is a great way for me to put myself in the shoes of others and create design solutions grounded in empathy throughout the project because I believe this breeds the best possible solutions.

No assumptions: Some things are unknown when working with people - I'm never going to truly be able to get inside their heads. I can draw from what I am told by clients, Subject Matter Experts, peer-reviewed medical research and so on, but I can't ascend into assuming the reasons why things are the way they are or my design solutions will probably be null and void for anyone involved. 

Ask "why?": When faced with a situation where I couldn't clarify something with clients or staff, I had to ask "why?" to dig deeper. I never stopped asking why. "How are things done in the facility right now? Why is that?" "What exists now to combat this same problem? Why isn't that being used?" Asking why produces some of the best design solutions because it never leaves anything out of the equation. 


All renderings in the following slideshow have been produced by Colin Lynch via Keyshot


Nominated to take part in DesignTO 2020 as part of the exhibit "Design for Health, Wellness, Aging, and Inclusion".

Winner of the DesignTO 2020 Juror's Award.