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Parables of Care: Using comics to share dementia care good practice and enhance empathetic and creative dementia care

Using comics to share dementia care good practice and enhance empathetic management of a wide spectrum of behaviors.

Photo of Ernesto Priego

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Who is your idea designed for and how does it better support family caregivers as they care for a loved one with dementia?

Parables of Care is an existing project designed for anyone interested in dementia and dementia care, particularly caregivers and people with relatives living with dementia. Research has shown that comics have the potential to have a positive impact on the health and quality of life of people who engage in comics reading and creation, contributing to transform attitudes, awareness and behaviour and contributing to create new opportunities for empowerment and more positive behaviours.

Parables of Care is a project of the Centre for Human Comuter Interaction Design, City, University of London, The University of Chester, UK, and Douglas College, Vancouver, Canada.

The project seeks to make a contribution to enhancing the public impact of the best practices in dementia care resulting from research emerged from the Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design at City, University of London, such as,  by exploring and embracing the communicative affordances of graphic storytelling in general and graphic medicine in specific to adapt and communicate good care practices.

We have already produced a 16-page publication which presents in comics form true stories of creative responses to dementia care, as told by carers, adapted from a group of over 100 case studies available at 

The publication was edited and adapted by Dr Simon Grennan (University of Chester) Dr Ernesto Priego (City, University of London) and Dr Peter Wilkins (Douglas College). It was drawn by Dr Simon Grennan with Christopher Sperandio.

We also hope that Parables of Care can contribute to enabling stronger links between academia, dementia care practice and comics scholars and practitioners. Its main objective however is to support anyone interested in dementia care with comics fostering creative and empathetic responses to dementia care.

A North American limited edition was printed in Canada for North American distribution, and a sister project at Douglas College in Canada which emerged from our initial phase is not only testing the comic but working in creating one with local artists and health care researchers (see

The project is currently not funded. We are keen on distributing our first comic more widely and internationally than at present and ideally to explore options to create more comics in the series.  

We are exploring options to extend the initial project, that limited itself to understanding the data and producing the 16-page comics publication, in order to obtain further funding to create more comics as part of a series and eventually a stand-alone volume, as well as related activities such as workshops with caregivers and health professionals. 

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

In a way we are already doing this by distributing the comic and collecting feedback. You can read some of the early responses here, Some of the activity on Twitter around the project, including responses from professionals and members of the public, are being collected here:

What skills, input, or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

We employed User Centred Design methods to create Parables of Care, and we are keen on keep testing the comic and think about ways in which a series could enhance the initial project. We are keen on receiving feedback and ideas. There are many ways in which this project can be expanded and enhanced, for example using digital interactive technologies (a comics app to complement Care'N'Share online for example?). We want to be part of communities of interest tackling similar design challenges.

How long has your idea existed?

  • 4 months - 1 year

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a lecturer at the Centre for HCID at City, University of London. I am the editor-in-chief and founder of The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics scholarship, and have a keen interest in HCID, graphic narrative and interactive health applications.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

HI Ernesto,

It is great to have you in the challenge.

What sort of feedback have you received so far?
Are the comics a standalone or could someone who has produced a product/solution for caregivers use the comics to explain the benefit of the solution or a platform that connects caregivers to products/solutions e.g. TechCare ?

Photo of Susan

Kate Rushton what I love about this idea is that it is non-tech focused, and that the solutions presented in the strips are behavioural changes anyone can make. They don't have to buy a product, they simply have to learn a new skill, open their minds, be creative, think outside the box, not get another box. In this high-tech society we're in, everybody seems to want to turn to a "tech" solution. I don't believe more tech is going to solve caregiver problems I think more help will. But hey, maybe that's just me...

Photo of Ernesto Priego

Hi Kate, thank you for your comment. We need to update this page but we have collected some feedback here: Here's some quotes from carers who read the comic:

“As a former carer of a relative I saw myself in many of the cases shown in Parables of Care, for example the story about clothing, the importance of being acquainted with a person’s life history, day visits linked to past activities, etc. The comics show how these situations can be managed when there is trust and creativity, helping to provide a better quality of life to both patients and carers.”


“I liked Parables of Care because it makes you aware of the issues around dementia without being preachy.”

“Parables of Care is very good. It can be quite strong if you have a relative that is starting to show symptoms of dementia, but the information helps you visualise a variety of behaviours, how dementia sufferers experience it and how carers can react to these situations with sensitivity.”


“I liked Parables of Care very much. It depicts a reality of many older people, and their families, amongst them myself. This comic is a source of hope because it shows that with a little bit of sensitivity and imagination this reality can become less painful.”

The comic is meant to fit within other strategies to aid carers, people with dementia and their relatives, as well as creating awareness and empathy amongst all readers. It would be awesome if a tool like TechCare could, for example, discover or recommend Parables of Care as a resource. The comic is not meant however to be 'instructional' in the traditional sense. This interview with co-editor Peter Wilkins might be useful to understand more context around the comic and our goals: And here's one with me where I talk more about the comic

Photo of Ernesto Priego

Thanks for this and your other comment once again, Susan. Would it be OK for us to add your feedback to our 'Readers' Views' section on the Parables of Care site?

Photo of Susan

Sure you may include my comment and a link to my blog if you like:

Photo of Ernesto Priego

Thank you!

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