Designer in Residence: a new model for design-driven innovation in future hospice care

The Inclusionaries Lab are leading a new innovative program of design research in palliative and end of life care that places designers at the heart of a busy hospice through a Designer in Residence model. This design-led program of research aims to bring design thinking and design-driven innovation to future hospice care systems and is result of a close collaboration with Marie Curie Hospice Liverpool. Dr Farnaz Nickpour and Andrew Tibbles from the Inclusionaries Lab will be based at Marie Curie Hospice Liverpool as Designers in Residence for an initial period of 12 months during 2022-2023.

Designers-in-Residence uniform, designed for the programme at Marie Curie Hospice Liverpool

The Designer in Residence team at Marie Curie Hospice Liverpool are based at the new Research Hub located on Stanley Ward, which was officially opened in November 2022 by Marie Curie UK CEO, Mr Matthew Reed. The team are planning to set up a mini design research lab in Stanley Ward, and to document the process and outcomes as one deliverable of the Design Residency programme.

Marie Curie UK have stated interest in the findings and outcomes of this innovative design-led initiative and in rolling out the model, following an evidence based approach.


Hospice care is in a period of change, with shifts towards redefining access and provision, ever-increasing and diversified demand, and advancements in technology transforming current models of care.

Beyond a creative problem-solving activity resulting in product-level or service-level improvement and innovation, Design could help re-imagine alternative scenarios and lead to system-level transitions, hence acting as a strategic agent of change in future hospice care.

Figure 1. Designer in Residence: Co-creating + co-defining system stakeholder map


The Inclusionaries Lab aim to co-define and co-imagine current and future hospice care as an ecosystem of people, objects, environments, technologies, interactions and narratives of care.

Objectives include;
a) Co-creating a systems map of the current hospice care;
b) Co-defining values and requirements in the current system;
c) Co-imagining new value propositions in future hospice care systems.

Methodology & methods

The Inclusionaries Lab’s approach to future hospice care in this research is informed by principles of System-shifting design; Speculative design; Human centred and Inclusive design; Design framing; Narratives design; and Placed-based approach. Designer in Residence model is adopted as a new innovative method for interdisciplinary investigation, collaboration and co-creation at the heart of a hospice.

Figure 2. Designer in Residence: Co-creating + co-defining current system maps

An innovative collaboration between a hospice and an academic design research centre allows for a team of design researchers to undertake a 12-month residency in a hospice to gain first-hand contextual understanding and to conduct 1) Semi-structured interviews with staff, visitors and patients (N=15); 2) Observations of patients and staff (N=10); 3) Co-define and co-design workshops with all stakeholders (N=2).


Three major outcomes are expected:

  1. Current and future system maps of hospice as a living system: 1. a) A current systems map of hospice care to help clarify and communicate how the system works; capture narratives, experiences and tensions; and underline strategic areas for future system-level transitions.
    1. b) A future system-shifting map to help identify new value propositions for future hospice care.
  2. An Auto-Ethnography Report on ‘Conducting Design Research in Hospice as a Sensitive Healthcare Setting’.
  3. A Beta version of a ‘Design Research Lab in a Hospice’.

Figure 3. Designer in Residence: Co-imagining future system transitions


This programme of design research incorporates advanced design principles and for the first time, introduces the innovative Designer in Residence model in the context of hospice care. The outcomes are expected to stimulate interdisciplinary discourse and collaboration and inform research and policy.

To find out more about this new initiative, contact Dr Farnaz Nickpour or Andrew Tibbles

Design for End of life publications

Designer-in-Residence; a new model for design-driven innovation in future hospice care (BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, 2022)

Design meets Death; A first systematic mapping review of design contributions to end of life field (Design Research Society International Conference, DRS 2022)

Coffins, Deathbeds, and Funerals; Design Meets Death in Times of COVID-19 (Preprint, 2020)

Design Meets Death: Emergent Issues in Reimagining ‘Legacy’ in the Context of Paediatric Palliative Care (Design Research Society International Conference, DRS 2020).

‘Is this a conversation about death?’ planning for future care with patients with advanced cancer: examining the feasibility of using the trajectory touchpoint technique for advance care planning. A qualitative study (The Palliative Care Congress, 2020).

Design Meets Death. A case of critical discourse and strategic contributions (Design Journal, 2019).