Emma Barrett Palmer and Hannah Parathian directed the planning, research and facilitation for a 5-day Dementia Living Lab for the Civil Service Finance Department in Northern Ireland in 2015. It concluded that organisations in Northern Ireland need to continue to work together on a dementia pathway which focusses on the precious person and normalises dementia in society.

The Living Lab ran for a total of 36 hours over 5 days across 2 locations - Belfast and Creggan.  Health and Social Care Commissioners, GPs, Residential Care Staff, Voluntary Community Sector Leaders, Designers, people living with dementia and Carers from across Northern Ireland were amongst the contributors. A total of 80 participants, of which the highest representation was from people living with dementia, contributed to the findings and recommendations.

What was of greatest significance for me, and the whole group for that matter, was the fact that we engaged throughout with people who are currently living with dementia, and with their carers/partners. This was a seminal experience for me; it showed me the value of looking at issues, and formulating interventions, with the service user at the heart of our thinking
— Malcolm Beattie, Head of Innovation Branch, Public Sector Reform Division

Emma and Hannah worked in collaboration with the team at the Northern Ireland Public Sector Innovation Lab and staff at Hemsworth Court Supported Accommodation in Belfast and The Healthy Living Centre in Derry/LondonDerry, to create an inclusive lab experience for people living with dementia and their families and professionals from across Northern Ireland. 

 Deep discussion, Hemsworth Court

Deep discussion, Hemsworth Court

 Sharing our story, Creggan

Sharing our story, Creggan

Health and Social Care Commissioners, GPs, Residential Care Staff, Voluntary Community Sector Leaders, Social Designers, people living with dementia and Carers were amongst the Lab participants. The 5 day timeframe enabled people to immerse themselves in a learning process together. Having the opportunity to hear from and discuss with experts by experience - including people living with dementia and professionals caring for people living with dementia - ensured moments of genuine reflection which grounded the overall process in reality.

Emma and Hannah were superb at steering the large group through the various exercises, and crucially at the same time, involving in a very sensitive way, the people with dementia and their carers, and ensuring that their voice was front and centre, always on the radar and key to shaping recommendations
— Malcolm Beattie
 What makes my day, Creggan

What makes my day, Creggan