Odds & Ends

Designing for better end of life experiences

About the project

Title: Odds & Ends
Type of work: Service design
Date: January – June 2016
Extent of the project: 5 months, full-time

Odds & Ends is the result of a five month collaboration with Royal Trinity Hospice on how to encourage and enable people to plan for and talk about end of life. Royal Trinity Hospice is Britain’s oldest hospice, and because they are at the forefront of end of life and palliative care, they feel that they have a responsibility — or duty of care — to talk about end of life with their community as well as society as a whole. They have taken on this project as part of a larger initiative to engage with new audiences earlier on.
By encouraging people to think about end of life, as well as by enabling them to better plan and have such discussions, Odds & Ends will help people and their loved ones to have much better end of life experiences, both financially and emotionally.

This project was a joint venture between Kay Dale and I, and it was awarded a Helen Hamlyn Design Award for inclusive design. Upon completion, Royal Trinity Hospice licensed the rights to the work.

The design

Odds & Ends transforms the fragmented experience of end of life planning with an online, all-in-one service that helps you plan for and talk about death and dying. It helps you to navigate, understand, and complete the different documents by explaining any medical and legal jargon used, whilst also — where possible — breaking it up into smaller chunks and simplifying the planning. Furthermore, it provides you with a curated list of advice, tools, and resources to help you overcome your barriers to having end of life conversations. Odds & Ends picks you up at key life moments and advises you as to which documents are needed and when. As your life evolves and your circumstances change, so too does your Odds & Ends.

Odds & Ends is built on a set of insights as to why most of us do not talk about and plan for death today (see the below section). While Odds & Ends is largely a digital service, we see this linking in with Trinity's upcoming centre north of the Thames, which will be a go-to place for death and dying.

Odds & Ends

Once on the Odds & Ends website, it'll present you with two options: Talk or plan.

Odds & Ends: Plan

If choosing to plan, your journey begins with six sets of questions about your lifestyle and personal values, which enables the service to provide you with recommendations on which planning documents are most relevant to your circumstances. More importantly, it explains why they are relevant and advises you on how to get them done.

Odds & Ends: Documents

End of life planning documents include wills, advance decisions, advance statements, funeral planning, lasting power of attorney (LPA), organ donation, bucket list, and digital legacy.

Odds & Ends: Talk

If choosing to talk, you'll be presented with a list of barriers as to why people don't have these conversations (all of which we heard from people during our research phase). For each barrier, Odds & Ends gives you tailored recommendations and tools on how to overcome this, from simple reassurance to card games, inspiration and tips.

Odds & Ends: Appointing a trustee

Sharing your plans with people in a safe and secure way is key as having end of life documents that no one knows about is of no use. We call this appointing a trustée. A great deal of thought went into shaping this experience. See the service blueprint in the below section for more information.

Odds & Ends conversation cards

An example of a what a downloadable resource in the talk-section can be: Conversation cards. These can be used in a number of different ways.

Odds & Ends Death Cards Against Humanity

There is no one right way to start thinking about these things. Even a fun, dark humour approach can sometimes be the best solution (think Death Cards Against Humanity).


Odds & Ends as a service that grows with you over time as your life unfolds and your situation changes. Ideally, you start planning these matters early in life when the first end of life documents become relevant to your circumstances. Download the lifecycle here.

Ways in

Odds & Ends picks you up after three key life transitions: Buying a home, having a baby, and getting married. It does so by setting up partnerships and by piggybacking off existing services and touchpoints that people are already engaging with.

Ways in: Homeowner letter

For example, after you've bought a home, you'll receive a letter inviting you to use Odds & Ends as it's now important to start drafting a will.

Life events and end of life documents

Think of your life as a collection of key events. Some events will change your circumstances, and some will make you relate to death in a different way. Odds & Ends supports you through these changes, and gradually builds up throughout your life.

Game of life

To best convey how Odds & Ends might grow with you over time, we created a 'game of life' that allowed you to go through life (by rolling the dice) and see how Odds & Ends would interact with you. This was shown at our graduation show, and later at Royal Trinity Hospice.

Game of life: Close-up Game of life: Close-up Game of life: Documents Helen Hamlyn Award

Odds & Ends was awarded a Helen Hamlyn Design Award for inclusive design.

A glimpse of the process

There are plenty of good, logical, evidenced reasons for why we should all talk about and plan for death; if not to improve our own experience, then at least for the sake of our loved ones. Yet most of us don't! So we set out to explore what's keeping us from this.

As we were aware that our topic was rather sensitive, we had to take a novel approach to our research. We initially met with various people comfortable talking about death — at events such as Bristol death fair, death cafes, and palliative care conferences. However, to hear from those who are not already engaged with death and dying we had get smart about how to start such conversations. For instance, building on our previous work with Trinity we held a workshop and a dialogue exhibition, where we utilised design provocations to trigger conversations with the general public. Our research showed us that there are many reasons for not wanting to talk about and plan for end of life. Roughly speaking, though, they can be grouped into five main barriers — on which Odds & Ends was built — which you can delve into below.

Statistical drivers for the project

We know that in the UK, only a small portion of the population has discussed or written down their end of life wishes. This has serious consequences, for example two out of three parents don’t have a will which means that should they die, their children could go into care.

Statistical drivers for the project

A growing body of evidence shows that planning for and talking about end of life reduce emotional distress in surviving relatives, improve quality of life for both the person dying and their loved ones, whilst also ensuring greater financial security.


Our research yielded five main insights as to why people don't talk about and plan for death. Odds & Ends aims to help overcome these.

Work In Progress Show

At our Work In Progress Show, we set up a "relationship quiz" for people to start reflecting on and talking (to us) about their relationship with death and dying.

Work In Progress Show Workshop

We also held a co-design workshop with people, whom we'd met during the early research phase.

Bristol Death Fair

At Bristol Death Fair, we presented some initial concepts as design provocations to trigger conversations with ordinary people more or less comfortable talking about death and dying.

Bristol Death Fair Royal Trinity Hospice

Although we purposely conducted research in non-hospice settings, we involved key stakeholders from Royal Trinity Hospice along the way.

Service blueprint

Blueprinting the service helped us think through the detailed steps and touchpoints, and how everything connected. For more details, download the blueprint in hi-res here.

Snuff it

Essentially Odds & Ends brings together the fragmented pieces of end of life planning, which involves a high number of various stakeholders, some of whom Odds & Ends relies on setting up strategic partnerships with. Download the stakeholder map here.

Snuff it

We also considered the legal implications, restrictions, and rules (illustrated here per type of planning document) as well as the business case and a number of future service scenarios.