Recovery CO–LAB

An experimental lab to explore and foster co-production in mental healthcare services

Recovery CO–LAB is a one-year experimental project developed by POLIMI DESIS Lab and the Management Engineering Department of Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with the Mental Health Department of Azienda Socio-Sanitaria Territoriale of the Spedali Civili di Brescia.

The project explored the application of design approaches and tools to foster co-production in recovery oriented experimental practices across mental health services. The process had been involving a heterogeneous group of actors including patients, family members, doctors, caregivers and local actors for a total of 59 people.

The design intervention was structured in two design and learning cycles conducted within two very diverse contexts in terms of organisational readiness to co-production. The first cycle focused on the community mental healthcare centre, the day-centre and the rehabilitative residential unit in Brescia, while the second cycle on the inpatient unit and the community mental health centre in the Montichiari hospital.

Moreover, inspired by the artist-in-residence programs, the project funded a 2-day-a-week presence of a designer-in-residence in the Mental Health department premises. Thanks to this residency the design team was able to informally talk with people, directly observe activities and key events, exchange information with key actors, and agree on the project development on the spot. Also, a temporary innovation lab – a physical corner located at the community mental health centre in Brescia – was introduced to support the contextual research.

The process was structured around 4 co-design workshops: the first workshop focused on the personal medical record prototyped for the UOP23 residential services and the second on the community mental health centre welcoming desk. In the second cycle, given the complexity of the inpatient ward in Montichiari where the level of co-production awareness was very low, the team had to slightly reframe the research with the aim of investigating the context and try to co-define some opportunity areas for the improvement of the ward experience.