Two Masters students from the Royal College of Art (RCA) have won an award for their final year service design project aimed at encouraging people to talk and plan for death. ‘Odds & Ends’ was designed in partnership with Royal Trinity Hospice and awarded the Age UK Inclusive Design Award by the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at this year’s RCA Graduate Exhibition Show.

Lilith Hasbeck and Kay Dale decided to focus their final project on death and dying after undertaking a class assignment to design a prototype for a new Royal Trinity Centre. Realising there was scope to further develop their ideas, the pair went on to develop Odds and Ends, an innovative website prototype containing a curated list of advice, tools and resources on how to overcome common barriers to talking and planning for end of life.

Lilith said, “Although coupling design and hospice might initially seem to be a bit of an odd partnership, it’s been a fantastic experience. As service designers, we have the advantage of being ‘outsiders’, who are there to learn from both working with and for people. After all, people are the experts of their lives.” Kay added, “We [designers] often forget to design for people’s lives near the end, even when are so many opportunities for making a positive difference. We hope this project shows what can be achieved when death and design come together.”

Dallas Pounds, Trinity’s Chief Executive, said “We are truly delighted that Lilith and Kay have been recognised for their outstanding work with Trinity. Planning and talking about death and dying is easy to put off, but by transforming the fragmented experience into an online, all-in-one service, the project makes the whole process much easier. And we know better planning leads to better deaths, which is something we would all want.”

In the UK, only 31% of people have discussed their end of life wishes with someone and only 24% have any written plans about their end of life wishes. For instance, two thirds of parents don’t have a will, which means that should they die, their children could go into care. This is despite the fact that talking about and planning for the end of life has been found to improve your quality of life, reduce emotional distress and ensure financial security.