This all started for me back in 2015, it was a Ted talk from BJ Miller and it was called “What Really Matters at the End of Life“. You should go and watch the whole thing, but here’s the part that you need to know:
BJ Miller: Healthcare was designed with diseases, not people at its center, which is to say, of course it was badly designed. And nowhere are the effects of bad design more heartbreaking or the opportunity for good design, more compelling than at the end of life where things are so distilled and concentrated. My purpose today is to reach out across disciplines and invite design thinking into this big conversation. That is, to bring intention and creativity, to the experience of dying. We have a monumental opportunity in front of us for one of the few universal issues as individuals, as well as a civil society: To rethink and redesign how it is we die.
That idea of redesigning our approach to death – it appeals to me in some super deep way that it’s hard to explain. So after this talk, I read everything I could about Zen Hospice Project, Atul Gawande, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, all the presenters from End Well, but I really, I had absolutely no idea where to channel all of this excitement and energy.
So I went back to BJ Miller and he gave me the answer:
BJ Miller: There are already record numbers of us living with chronic and terminal illness and into ever older age. And we are nowhere near ready or prepared for this silver tsunami. We need an infrastructure dynamic enough to handle these seismic shifts in our population. Now is the time to create something new, something vital. I know we can, because we have to. The alternative is just unacceptable. And the key ingredients are known: policy, education and training, systems, bricks and mortar. We have tons of input for designers of all stripes to work with.
Education and training has been a part of my life at HeatSpring for the last 15 years. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to talk to the professionals – people who are out ahead of this – and work together to redesign the end.