Workshop 1, July 9th 2015

The first LAUGH workshop provided insights and practical knowledge about hand use, play and memory in relation to dementia care.

Those attending were invited experts working directly with people with late stage dementia or closely connected with their care. The workshop involved participants in a range of practical activities designed to help them reflect on their own experiences and relate these to those of people living with dementia and their carers. Information gathered during the workshop will help us in the subsequent stages of the LAUGH project to design playful objects for people living with late stage dementia.


Bread making, clapping games and making simple toys, were selected for their potential to reveal insights about manual dexterity, haptic touch and the implications of memory impairment on hand use for people living with late stage dementia.

Bread making

Workshop participants were guided through the practical activity of making bread in order to reflect on sensory experience and hand use. Comments from the participants highlighted the ways in which the activity stimulated pleasurable memories – some long past. Key findings from this activity indicate that dexterous activities provide rhythmic, calming and soothing engagement that is absorbing and distracting.


Clapping games

During this part of the workshop music was played and participants were encouraged to respond with clapping games. Some participants consciously drew on their memories of games played as children with associated rules of engagement (for example, who should take the lead); most instinctively began clapping and moving to the rhythms co-operatively with their partners, drawing on memories through doing the activity.

This activity highlighted several important design considerations including: the potential for both inclusivity and exclusion, the significance of music and rhythm and the role of pre-defined rules in shortcutting access to fun and play.

clapping game

Simple toy making

The final part of the workshop was devoted to making simple toys: a paper fortune-teller, a whizzy disk and simple card-weaving spiral. The activities stimulated reminiscence about childhood games.

This activity highlighted the social aspects of play and the reward gained from individual creativity that could be shared socially. The workshop revealed how ‘in the moment experiences’ contribute to positive emotion.


Further information about LAUGH workshop 1 and the related research findings will be presented at the Design Research Society Conference 2016 (DRS2016) and published online.


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