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HUG: A compassionate approach to designing for wellbeing in dementia care

Treadaway, Cathy; Seckam, Abdul; Fennell, Jac; Taylor, Aidan

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Cathy Treadaway

Abdul Seckam

Aidan Taylor


Design can improve the quality of life of people living with dementia but creating successful design solutions is not simple, due to the complexity of the medical condition, and the ethical considerations of including those affected in design research and evaluation. This article describes research involving an interactive product, ‘HUG’, developed from academic research, to support the wellbeing of people living with advanced dementia, which is now commercially available. People affected by dementia were included at every stage in the design research process. The evaluation of HUG took place in both hospital and care home contexts with 40 participants living with dementia. In this paper, a qualitative hospital study is described, in which patients received a HUG on prescription. Findings reveal that although HUG was rejected by some, those patients who did accept it benefitted significantly. Not only did the device reduce distress, anxiety and agitation but it also helped with patient compliance in medical procedures, aspects of daily care and enhanced communication and socialisation. The Alzheimer’s Society’s accelerator partnership funding has enabled this product to be manufactured and made commercially available so that the benefits of this academic design research can be made more widely available to people living with dementia.


Treadaway, C., Seckam, A., Fennell, J., & Taylor, A. (2023). HUG: A compassionate approach to designing for wellbeing in dementia care. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(5), Article 4410.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 27, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 1, 2023
Publication Date Mar 1, 2023
Deposit Date Mar 3, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 6, 2023
Journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Print ISSN 1661-7827
Electronic ISSN 1660-4601
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 5
Article Number 4410
Series Title This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing Promotion for People Living with Dementia through Human-Centred Technologies
Keywords dementia; design; hug; person-centred; prudent care; psychosocial; anxiety; social prescribing; compassion; public health; environmental and occupational health
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