Along with my co-founders of a community-focused design fellowship called playUP, I had a special opportunity to work with Hospice Savannah, an entirely not-for-profit enterprise whose services are offered at no cost to patients and their families. Despite this clear benefit, the organization continually encountered barriers that prevented patients and families from turning to hospice care early enough to experience the full potential of its medical and emotional support services. Initial interviews with active and potential hospice recipients revealed common themes: choosing hospice meant giving up the fight and giving in to death; hospice was hopeless and should be a last resort.
Hospice Savannah turned to us to build awareness, encourage early intervention and planning, and help to solve its image problem. We in turn engaged graduate design students at the Savannah College of Art and Design to conduct ethnographic research into perceptions of the shared human phenomena at the heart of our challenge — death, dying and grief — and how those perceptions translate into decisions about end of life care.
Through the study and an in-depth examination of the organization itself, we hoped to uncover hidden insights that would help us identify a path toward changing the misconception that choosing hospice care meant simply giving up.
Hospice Savannah devotes significant attention to helping families and patients create rich legacies, using storytelling and other therapies that help patients feel confident that their identities will live on in the hearts and minds of their loved ones. Through their bereavement counseling program, Full Circle, Hospice Savannah also helps families and friends capture and preserve the legacies of those whom they’ve lost. Not only are these activities a healthy and vital part of the grieving process but they are also, at the core, a celebration of life.
Sharing stories is part of human nature. It is the way we come to understand our experiences, ourselves, and each other. To literally “play up” Hospice Savannah’s storytelling capabilities, we invited Savannah residents to participate in a shared expression of love for the community.
Inspired by Mark Freid’s book, The Moment Jars, in which a man collects significant moments of his life in jars, playUP created a tangible representation of the story, transforming legacy-making into an engaging event. We sourced recycled jars and partnered with another local nonprofit, Emergent Structures, to source reclaimed wood for the installation. playUP’s version of “The Moment Jars” was designed to capture and preserve a communal legacy — connecting past stories with future aspirations — and to reintroduce Hospice Savannah to the community with a new message: choosing hospice means choosing love and celebrating life.
- Ethnographic Research
- Marketing Strategy
- Art Direction
- Engagement Management
- Experience Design