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.
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.
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.