Life Before Death Campaign
LIFE BEFORE DEATH
What was Hospitable Hospice About?
Our second joint project with Ang Chin Moh Foundation, we commissioned fuelfor, a design consultancy that specialised in healthcare innovation, to look into how Singapore can develop the next generation of in-patient hospices.
The existing problems were myriad: Hospices have a poor image. They are usually located in isolated areas. In addition, hospice spaces are not designed to support palliative care practices. In the bigger context, eldercare facilities could do with an upgrade as well.
WHICH HOSPICES WERE INVOLVED?
The three participating hospices in Singapore were Dover Park Hospice, Assisi Hospice, and St. Joseph’s Home. As all three were in the midst of expansion plans, the project was timely for the respective planning committees.
HOW DID DESIGN THINKING COME INTO PLACE?
A user-centered design method was used. The team visited the three hospices and a funeral home, interviewed care teams, conducted ethnographic observations, shadowed the staff and held multidisciplinary group generative sessions.
These helped reveal opportunities for innovation and offered a refreshing vision on how future hospices and eldercare facilities should be like. The handbook, Hospitable Hospice—Redesigning Care for Tomorrow, articulated seven concepts and 24 design principles. The handbook also offered ideas such as: “Goodbye Garden” that allows family members to bid farewell to the departed, door hangers that let patients decide if they would like to be left alone, and thank-you cookie-making sessions for patients to express gratitude.
Both Sides, Now
What was Both Sides, Now About?
Together with Ang Chin Moh Foundation, we debuted Both Sides, Now , a three-week long immersive arts experience that took place at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) in 2013 to create awareness, encourage reflection and spur end-of-life conversations amongst the general public, caregivers and healthcare professionals.
Nine different artworks were presented, comprising visual art, multimedia installations, short films, story-telling, singing sessions, public dialogues—drawn from research and interviews with 50 patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.
Notably featured was, Ah Ma, a film directed by Anthony Chen (which garnered a Special Mention at the Cannes Film Festival), that told the story of a family visiting their dying grandmother and the different ways in which each grieves her passing.
HOW DID THE AUDIENCE TAKE TO IT?
About 5,500 audiences comprising healthcare workers, caregivers, patients and the public interacted with the various artworks. Subsequently, KTPH extended the installations of Both Sides, Now until 10 January and reached out to a further estimated 2,500 members of the public.
Many expressed their appreciation and the importance of this production helping them understand end-of-life issues better, and a call to continue and bring this out to the community.
Design for Death
We collaborated with Ang Chin Moh Foundation to bring end-of-life matters and death care to the forefront of public awareness and appreciation. There were a few joint initiatives in this collaboration.
Could Death Be Designed?
The Design For Death international design competition was designed to catalyse the international creative and design community to rethink and reimagine deathcare for the future. Through the creative platforms, we hoped to encourage ideas in the intersection of design, thanatology and deathcare, and to inspire future practical initiatives.
Two competitions were organised, accepting entries in three categories: eco/green deathcare, wrappings of mortality and architecture. The winners were invited and attended the 2013 National Funeral Directors Association International Convention & Expo, to present their works.
The entries were featured in:
First Competition: http://www.designboom.com/competition/design-for-death
Second Competition: http://www.designboom.com/competition/design-for-death-architecture/
What Was After Cicely About?
Cicely Saunders was the founder of the modern hospice movement and one of the pioneers who championed for the terminally ill. Commissioned and launched in March 2013 to coincide with International Women’s Day, After Cicely followed the journey of five female palliative care pioneers in Bangladesh, Mongolia, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam. It was directed and produced over seven months by two young Singaporean women from Logue, Jean Loo and Yang Huiwen
HOW WAS THE REACH?
Following the launch, the film was screened by the Singapore International Foundation, HCA Hospice Care and Singapore Hospice Council.
In two weeks, over 6,000 people viewed the 20-min online documentary, largely from Singapore, US, Taiwan and Vietnam, reaching 80 countries. Locally it was screened at Raffles Junior College, a community outreach event in Aljunied and the Endeavours Documentary Film Festival at The Arts House. The female protagonists were also interviewed in international (BBC World News) and National TV in their home countries (Mongolia, Singapore and Vietnam).
The film was shown at the opening of the 2013 Palliative Care Seminar organised by Fei Yue Community Services. It was also used for lectures and outreach purposes in Taiwan.
WHAT DID THE VIEWERS THINK?
Professor Doug Bridge, a palliative care physician from Perth, Australia said he wept tears of gratitude as he watched the women demonstrating the heart of palliative care.
He was especially touched watching Chantal Chou talk to a 4-year old boy about letting go despite her battle with cancer.
“Thank you so much for your amazing film. I cannot say how deeply touched I am by what I have seen here and how you have expressed it, it is beautiful,” said Lousie O’Brien from Canada, who added that she was blessed to have worked with Dame Cicely in her younger days and that she was truly inspirational.
To help the dying depart with dignity and peace instead of fear and regret, we galvanised the creatives and the nonprofits to come up with ideas ranging from cheery obituaries to thought provoking art installation.
How Can an Obituary be Cheery?
Why not? The inevitable need not be intolerable. We partnered with Mandate Advertising International to come up with innovative and collaborative solutions to rethink the convention death notices and in memoriams. 10 families participated, of which two were published weekly in the national English and Chinese newspapers for five weeks in early 2013.
The purpose was to destigmatise death, alter mind-sets and encourage greater creativity when remembering a loved one or someone special who has passed on; to celebrate life rather than mourn the loss of it.
Obitcheery consisted of various showcases, information, and activities with which the public engaged and interacted with the purpose to inspire more joyful and original remembrances.
WHAT WERE THE HIGHLIGHTS?
Students from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts were engaged to come up with their own unique In Memoriam for a loved one who has passed on, or someone dear to them who had a positive impact on their lives. Over 50 submissions were received.
The public used the web app to create their personalised tin boxes memories to pay tribute to a loved one who has passed on. They shared stories about their loved ones for nomination and selected entries were published as an In Memoriam in the local papers.
HOW WAS IT RECEIVED?
Since the publication, it has drawn interest from a funeral director who was inspired by the concept to include it as part of suite of services, and newspapers also have dedicated staff to help members of the public who need assistance to design a personalised obituary/in memorium. The English and Chinese Obitcheery won the top two prizes in the SPH iink Awards 2013 (Print Classified/Recruitment/Notices).