End of life challenge Top Ideas


Congratulations to our NYC OpenIDEO members who participated to the end of life challenge for their amazing energy during ideation and refinement. A particular thought for Lee Kim, one of our members, who took the lead of the effort over the summer!

Connecting Lives, one of the idea developed by the NYC OpenIDEO team, and Gardening Connection, an idea developed by Bettina Fliegel, a long time OpenIDEO member and an NYC OpenIDEO chapter regular, were mentioned on the OpenIDEO blog:

"Additional Highlights

In addition to our 10 top ideas, we’re highlighting Connecting Lives, Gardening Connection and When I Die, I Wanna be… for their incredible effort during our Refinement phase. These three teams have been active collaborators and done a remarkable job incorporating community feedback to develop their ideas in a human-centered way. We hope to see them continue to develop beyond the End of Life Challenge." (https://challenges.openideo.com/blog/end-of-life-challenge-announcing-our-top-ideas)

Co-creation and Feedback Session with Mt Sinai Palliative Nurses on July 15, 2016

Thursday we had the great privilege to be invited to the Mt Sinai Palliative Care Unit for a feedback session with Nurses and other Caregivers from the Palliative Care Unit. Design thinking is at its core human-centered and receiving feedback was crucial for the NYC OpenIDEO members as we work to refine and iterate several of our ideas selected in the Refinement phase of the OpenIDEO End of Life Challenge.  

The first thing you notice is just how caring and dedicated these people are.  You would think in a place where loss is almost a daily occurrence that the atmosphere and individuals would be a little more somber or reserved.  It is just the opposite.  There was such an openness and joy they brought with them and shared with us we were all truly touched.  For them, making sure people live, create & grow until it’s their time to leave this earth is their calling.  

The Nurses took personal time out of their long busy day to give feedback on 4 different ideas.  Below we share some of our main learnings.  

The Emotional Clock prototype was the first to be presented.


We learned that Nurses may not be willing to be so vulnerable with a patient and that the sharing of emotions needs to be done with great care:  “The process is unique and intuitive, not universal and it’s difficult to capture what is appropriate at a given time. Sometimes what you need silence and just a hand to hold.”

We learned that they had two major therapeutic “tools”, sharing emotions with each other and time on their own.  One thing that stood out was that when patients die outside their shift, there is a hole due to lack of closure that lingers and currently nurses do not have tools to really address this loss.  

Then Bettina presented a journey map for her Gardening Connection.   


This idea provide patients in Home Hospice to participate in gardening activities through a partnership with an urban community garden. Connecting to nature and new people can enhance one’s experience in multiple ways as they approach end of life. It can also become a place of remembrance. Nurses were particularly excited about how the concept catered to many individuals of different physical abilities.   Those who can’t travel to garden can still grow seedlings at home and skype in to watch their plantings.

Nurses  explained how this program could help shape the culture by redefining what it means to be at the end of life and what it is to be a sick person:Being at the end of life does not mean you stop living.  “You can continue to create and define your own identity until the day you pass.”  It may even ‘Help people accept dying’ as a change of life, not just a winding down of it.”  

Next to Present was Tender Memento


Tender Momento is a concept where hospitals partner with film students and local community partners to capture special moments of patients, family and care givers interacting in a social rather than a clinical setting.  It would give caregivers a way to form individual memories of patients outside of their job description.  Community partners provide items for a social setting such as Ice Cream Tuesdays.  This would be filmed and memorialized for family and caregivers to share in remembrance.  

We also learned that some parts of this idea are already in use. “Art therapy is used and memorialized for both families and caregivers.  There are also structured remembrance ceremonies once a week, once a month and every 6 months for those who have passed.  Families do return for remembrance ceremonies.  

Memorial Wall of Patient Artwork


Our Co-creators loved the idea of seeing family members interacting with patients.  Often times they are so busy taking the video or photos they are not a part of it.”  They also thought it may be too emotional to see video of those who died and they would need a way to opt out.  May be better suited to family and other caregivers.   

Our last presentation was Rainbow/SuperPal App.  This app is designed to help Caregivers connect patients with similar interests that are either physically or mentally isolated from each other.  The response we got was a moving story about two boys who were undergoing treatment that forced them into isolation.  What they did was become pen pals with their nurses being the couriers.  

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The other aspect of this App would be a platform to allow community partnerships to form that nurses can tap into to better meet their patient’s needs or wishes.  Such as a local book store providing materials to set up a reading group of the latest release of a favorite author.  

We are ever so grateful to these wonderfully amazing people for taking time out of an incredibly long day to share their knowledge and insights with us.  And they blew us away with their thoughtfulness and kindness by thanking us for thinking of them and recognizing how important their contributions are.   

Make sure to check the updates on the different ideas and to give feedback to the teams. Thursday we will meet again to keep iterating and prototyping!

Tiger Buchman, Member of the NYC OpenIDEO Chapter

Prototyping Pop-Up Session at NYC OpenIDEO Chapter (June 23rd, 2016)

I got to our pop-up prototyping session scheduled to be held at a mid-town office space a little early to help set up the session for the evening. A pile comprised of Barbie dolls, fabrics, magic markers, sticky pads, and every item imaginable you would find in a kindergarten crafts bin filled a long conference table.

The evening of pop-up prototyping session was about to begin.

For the next 90 minutes, NYC Open Ideo chapter members and friends created a series of innovative prototypes addressing end-of-life experience for patients and caretakers.


Death is such an unsettling topic. So how might we re-imagine the end-of-ones' life and create a positive and delightful experience for all who are involved in the process? With this challenge in mind, Lee Kim (Pop-up session facilitator) and about twenty designer thinkers of the OpenIDEO NYC chapter worked hard to create with the following prototypes: The Emotional Clock, Rainbow Reward Program, Super Hero Kit, Caroling Digital Platform and the Mood Master.

The Emotional Clock prototype created by group members Thao-Nguyen Le  and Kaiyi. The wearable prototype was crafted from pipe cleaners and paper plates. The clock is divided into six segments that list emotions: joy, sadness, disgust, anger, fear and ask me. The emotional clock has two dials; the longer dial indicates the user’s primary feeling whereas the shorter hand reflects their secondary emotion. The user would modify the dial to indicate how they are feeling at the moment. Since the users’ (patient and caretakers) emotions are publicly displayed, it lends itself to conversations about how they are all feeling thus building connectedness.

Team members -Jocelyn and others - formed The Rainbow Reward Program that is geared toward pediatric patients. It praises the bravery of children who are going through harsh medical treatments. As a celebratory prize, the caretaker provides a piece the rainbow when a child successfully complete their treatment. When a patient collects seven pieces, they can request a wish that will be administered by a caretakers. By providing an environment for caretakers and pediatric patients to participate in the Rainbow Reward Program we are building relationship between both parties and create a community where people can share their feelings.

The Superhero Kit, like the Emotional Clock, is a wearable device. It will be provided by caretakers to pediatric patients to engage in fun and creative activities. The prototype was fashioned by the following group members: Carson, Luti, Rolando, and Lorain. When a patient is exhibiting sign of distress, the caretaker surprises them by sporting a superhero cape kit. The Superhero Kit contains two capes and art supplies. The capes can be adorned, drawn or written on. The caretaker wears the capes and prompts the child to express what they are feeling visually on the cape. The young patient also has a cape of their own and the caretaker taker now can also express their feelings.

Sing me a song starts from the time a patient is admitted to the hospice unit. When a patient is admitted, caretakers ask what his/her favorite songs are. The data is collected then housed in the Caroling Digital Platform. Through the element of surprise, the caretakers band together and sing a song for the patient (based on the data of his/her favorite tune). This group of design thinkers utilized music as a device that bridges gaps, conjures memories and evoke positive emotions.

 The Mood Master is a program constructed by team members-Asha , Davendra , Ding , Stan, and Page- to help medical practitioners to recharge emotionally through power of community. The participants embellish a pin board with a colored post-its to represent their mood. Vulnerability Director assesses the mood-board and determines the morale of staff and reports the findings to the Mood Master. Once a week, a Mood Master is appointed to facilitate conversation among staff so they could share their feelings. Collectively, the Mood Master and medical staff come to solutions to their challenges.

Overall, OpenIDEO NYC chapter prototyping pop-up session's core ideas were inspired by: a palliative hospice nurse who has been in nursing for 9 years, the director of Pediatric Palliative care at a children's hospital in NYC and a pediatrician who works with teens at Juvenile Justice Center.

We intend to put these ideas into testing and create solutions that will shift the paradigm of the end-of-life experience as sad and unwelcoming time to a delightful and rejuvenating experience for all.  

By Lorain Hamilton, Graphic and Illustration