Arts & Humanities Research Council fund design research for dementia

Cardiff Metropolitan University’s CARIAD research centre has just been awarded an AHRC research grant of £500,000 over three years for its work in designing for people with dementia.

The LAUGH (Ludic Artefacts Using Gesture and Haptics) project is an international collaboration with researchers at the University of Technology Sydney and Birmingham City University and is led by Professor Cathy Treadaway from Cardiff School of Art and Design.

This international research collaboration addresses the call by the WHO and the G8 nations for international collaboration in order to address the global challenge of the ageing population.

The research is being partnered by Gwalia Cyf, one of the largest providers of residential social care in Wales, and will bring together people with dementia, their carers and a range of health professionals, technologists and designers. The work is also supported by the leading charities in the field: Age Cymru- My Home Life, Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia Positive.

The LAUGH research project will develop innovative playful devices that amuse, distract, comfort, engage, bring joy, and promote ‘in the moment’ living for people with late stage dementia.  It builds on wellbeing research that shows that happy people live longer, have fewer falls and require less medication. It will propose non-pharmacological approaches to improve the wellbeing of people with dementia and their care.

The researchers will be investigating innovative design solutions that incorporate embedded electronics and smart materials.

The LAUGH project builds on design research for people with dementia seed funded by OPAN ( and Cardiff Metropolitan University. Two previous projects: Making a Difference and Sensor e-Textiles have been exploring ways of developing sensory textiles for use in the care of people with late stage dementia.

Professor Treadaway says: “I am delighted that we have been awarded this major UK funding for such an important project. Our aim is to develop new devices that will bring in the moment pleasure, fun and happiness to people with late stage dementia. We intend to harness the potential of new technologies and smart materials to personalise designs and so help retain the selfhood of people with severe cognitive impairment.”

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