Thursday, August 27, 2009

Service Design and End of Life Care

Given the fact that none of us wants to die alone, in pain, or be forced to accept whatever we can get, combined with the potential for healthcare reform to aid in new ways of thinking and delivering services, the topic of "end of life" care is both a critical and challenging project for designers who are committed to improving quality of life and the health of our society. This article, Forget the Euthanasia Talk -- End-of-Life Care is Needed, by Rafael Sciullo, president and CEO of Family Hospice and Palliative Care, which serves 11 counties in Western Pennsylvania, had me pausing to ask myself, "as a designer who is committed to clearing pathways and enabling access to resources, what can and am I doing to develop services that address this need?" In an age where business is focused on the next big thing, generically and eloquently termed "innovation", who says there isn't ample opportunity to address an essential social issue such as the end of our lives? On a cooler, more cerebral level, designers who are prone to finding the most difficult problem or tangle of concerns to tease apart, why wouldn't we take on this challenge of dealing with the delicate taboo of dying? Everyone goes through it. The stress and logistics of preparing for and moving through the process is enormous. By and large we have nothing in place to help us offset the concerns and help us make informed decisions. It is one of the ultimate problems to solve--a combination of emotional, economic, and logistical needs between an individual and all the people that surround and care for them. Why are we racing to to make a better dog food bag when the simple act of dying is so desperately in need of help? More importantly, what am I going to do about it?