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Sensor e-textiles: person centered co-design for people with late stage dementia

Cathy Treadaway (CARIAD, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK)
Gail Kenning (University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 13 June 2016




The purpose of this paper is to present design research investigating the development of sensory textiles with embedded electronics to support the wellbeing of people with late stage dementia in residential care.


The research presented is qualitative and uses a mixed method approach informed by grounded practical theory and positive design methodologies. It uses an inclusive and participatory co-design process involving people with dementia and their families with an interdisciplinary team of experts.


Both the co-design process and the artefacts developed have been beneficial in supporting wellbeing. The textile artefacts have been found to soothe, distract and comfort people with dementia. They have also been shown to facilitate in the moment conversational bridges between family members and carers with persons with dementia.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are based on a small cohort of participants, observational reports and descriptive accounts from family members and carers.

Practical implications

The paper proposes ways in which simple hand-crafted textiles can be used beneficially to support the wellbeing of people with late stage dementia. It provides examples of how technology can be used to personalise and extend the sensory properties of the artefacts created.

Social implications

It promotes an inclusive co-design methodology involving care professionals, carers and people with dementia with designers and technologists.


The paper describes new ways of extending sensory properties of textiles through the integration of technology.



The authors would like to thank members of the Sensor e-Textiles Research Development Group and Gwalia Cyf, staff, residents and family members for their contributions to this research. The authors also acknowledge and thank the Older People and Ageing research Network (OPAN) and Cardiff Metropolitan University REIF who have supported this research.


Treadaway, C. and Kenning, G. (2016), "Sensor e-textiles: person centered co-design for people with late stage dementia", Working with Older People, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 76-85.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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