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Embassy of Health

ENCOUNTER#9, superhero or design zero?

Social design and care: a reality check

ENCOUNTER#9, superhero or design zero? — © Foto: Harmen Meinsma

More and more social designers are being deployed in healthcare. But what does this exchange actually require from all those who are involved, and are they able to deliver it? ENCOUNTER#9 critically questions the role and actions of designers in healthcare.

A visual research of the role of the social designer in healthcare

Increasingly, designers play a role in healthcare. For instance, they focus on the person behind the condition, take a holistic approach or train (future) care professionals. Yet the combination of design and care is no naturally successful. There are pitfalls and unexpected challenges that require adaptability and mutual understanding.

ENCOUNTER#9 takes a critical look at the use of design in elderly care. With humour and irony, designer Joost van Wijmen positions himself as the anti-superhero. He examines the relativity of failure and success and shows how promising theory relates to the often unruly practice.

The unruly practice

The project consisted of a series of designed encounters between elderly and young people being trained as well-being professionals. The realization of the project went differently than expected. Each person involved had their own ambitions, goals, opportunities and tasks. All made the best of it. But the reality was capricious, complicated and was hardly controllable. By combining the design perspective with reflections from participants, partners and other stakeholders - who in turn depict their own roles as superheroes - a multi-voiced picture of the complex reality of (social) design within care emerges. In daring to learn from this complex reality, lies the real value of this project.

Mindset: agile, responsible and learning

What are the challenges for designers within healthcare? What do healthcare professionals face in a design process? The impact of social design in healthcare takes many shapes and forms. It is important to explore together what to expect and what results are adequate.

About Joost van Wijmen // Stichting ENCOUNTER

The ENCOUNTER Foundation // Joost van Wijmen designs interventions to explore social interactions. To do so, we deploy the changing body and its impact on one's own identity and mutual relationships. We transfer these designs into social design projects in the context of health and care.