Connecting with loved ones during the final stages of life

Adjusting to this new way of life during the Corona crisis is a challenge all of us are facing, but for some people, the reality of this crisis is more acute. For those people affected by the loss of a loved one to Covid-19, how to say goodbye, provide support and begin to mourn that loss under such difficult circumstances is also part of this new and difficult reality. 

Damien Nunes, (Strategic) Service Designer and Trainer/Coach at UMIO and the Service Science Factory, recently took part in two online hackathons, namely; #Hackcorona organised by Dutch Hacking Health and one week later #Hackthecrisis organised by The New Web. Hundreds of designers, health professionals, artists, communication specialists and AI experts, came together in order to develop innovative solutions to corona-related problems and challenges. Damien coached 3 teams during #hackcorona and signed up as a participant for the #hackthecrisis.

Supporting families

Inspired by the theme 'A beautiful end to life', one of the teams Damien coached, ‘Together at a distance/Samen zijn op Afstand’, won best Human Centred Design award at the #hackcorona. The focus was specifically on saying goodbye and providing support and closure in the final moments of life for both the patient as well as relatives that could and couldn’t be present. As a concrete deliverable, the team designed a free to download booklet that families could use to support and inspire them during these hard times. This booklet can be downloaded via this link and will be further validated and improved.

Connecting hearts and minds

To further explore how to connect terminally ill Corona patients with relatives who cannot be with them at the end of life, Damien sketched out and partly validated the concept he named, “Hearttalks” during the #hackthecrisis hackathon. Hearttalks is a low-fi solution that creates an interface between patients and relatives on which they can co-design their own rituals. It uses the patient’s natural heartbeat as a beacon of life that is either live or pre-recorded via a digital stethoscope and sent to the relative with the use of a tablet. Family members on the other hand, can record and send their own words, memories and rituals on their smartphones, which the patient can receive via earphones. The hope is that the idea might inspire healthcare organisations to expand the emotional support given to relatives before, during and after the passing of a loved one.

Find out more

If you would like to find out more about this project, you can contact Damien Nunes


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