Cancer Screening Guide for Indigenous Communities (Design for Health)

Peter Jones Design for Care, Health design

In healthcare design, many projects are done over stages of study, proto-construction, and longer/deeper feedback cycles than in private sector or commercial projects. One of our OCADU Health Design collaborative design projects, with Cancer Care Ontario (CCO), initiated pre-Covid and after some time in reviews, was recently completed and distributed to stakeholders. The First Nations Cancer Screening Access Guides were designed in collaboration with Laura Senese, senior researcher with Cancer Care Ontario, working with PI Dr. Jill Tinmouth with Sunnybrook Research Institute. The Access Guide, a bespoke product for the Wequedong Lodge, was finalized and recently printed in English, French, Ojibway and Oji-Cree language versions.

The baseline English version we designed (with the ideas and design work from several research assistants) was created as a concise, vernacular, culturally-relevant guideline for First Nations use across Ontario. While in principle the design of a health communication artifact is a straightforward process of translation of health information into a stakeholder (e.g. patients, advisors) context, there are hundreds of emergent decisions and often many iterations to produce cultural translation, that communicates in the mix of voices of the cultural community values and the positive, knowledgeable care practices of healthcare providers. Design decisions resulting from mockups and discussion involve style of communication and word choice, meaningful and humanistic imagery and characterization, sensitivity to inscribed values for indigenous health, colour palette choices and inherent meanings, some language, and contact and reference information. These options and decisions are impossible to proscribe in advance, and require a relational, caring approach to research and artifact codesign.

The cover image for the Access Guide was designed with Patricia Kambitsch, visual storyteller with Playthink, who has been a constant collaborator in humanizing complex synthesis maps. Patricia illustrated the people and family settings used throughout the guide, and the hand-drawn images and sensibility throughout the guide.

The basic steps and guidelines for the pathway were used for the cover of the guide booklet. The final 16-page Cancer Screening Access Guide for Indigenous Communities was printed and shipped to the community contact for the Wequedong Lodge, an indigenous healthcare centre in Thunder Bay.