Calum reflects on the Design HOPES launch event and the value that the third sector can add to the potentially world-leading project.

Design HOPES, which is a project designed “to advance societal understanding of design’s impact as well as the opportunities, barriers, behaviour changes and tools needed to transition the health sector to a green approach”, was officially launched on 31st October 2023 at the V&A Dundee – Scotland’s design museum. 

As one of four green transition eco-hubs being funded across the UK, it became clear during the event that Design HOPES – which stands for Healthy Organisation in a Place-based Ecosystem, Scotland – have set out to harness and champion the themes of integration during their mission to establish the project as an internationally recognised centre of excellence.

Design HOPES will be the only UK ecosystem to focus its research on how to improve sustainability in healthcare, which is a testament to the value and trust that is placed in Scotland’s health and social care sector. As a result, sustainability in innovation and transformation, pushing culture shifts, and utilising partnership working across sectors are fundamental to the success of the project. 

It was outlined by the project leaders, Professor Paul Rodgers of the University of Strathclyde and Professor Mel Woods of the University of Dundee, that by pushing a culture shift on design-led innovation and thinking, collaborating across sectors on strategic high-reward projects, and showcasing the impact of design-led approaches in the health and social care ecosystem, Scotland has the “potential to become a global leader in sustainable health and social care”. 

Design HOPES have already published innovative plans to design and develop environmentally-friendly operating theatre clothing from single-use plastic waste. They have also partnered with six Scottish universities, work closely with many in the health and care sector – including NHS Scotland and Carers Scotland – and are currently designing their Community of Practice.

Leonie Bell, director of V&A Dundee, stated that “we can overcome barriers by working together”, with the launch of the event highlighting that the themes of integration have been carefully considered and embraced by the leaders of the project, who continued by agreeing that the “health of a planet is inextricably linked to the health of its people”. They added that through wider public engagement and partnership working, greater societal understanding of design’s contribution to the creation of a more sustainable health and social care system would be achieved.

This highly innovative and ambitious project, which could be transformational for health and social care across the globe, adds to a plethora of highly-regarded Scottish projects championing the themes of integration, with Design HOPES a very welcome addition to the health and social care landscape. The project has embraced and endorsed the Scottish Government’s ‘Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy 2022-2026’, meaning it is fundamental for Design HOPES to work across sectors to enable success for the project.

In line with this, the ALLIANCE believe it is vital that voices from across the third sector are right at the heart of the development. Third sector organisations working within health and social care have shown time and time again that their work can add value that statutory bodies cannot, and if Scotland is to become a world leader in sustainable health and social care, it will not be able to do it without the essential role played by our third sector organisations with expertise in the field. This has been clear across several national developments in recent years, including the National Care Service, which is heavily reliant on the input of the third sector to ensure successful implementation by 2026. 

As a result, this is a great opportunity for Scotland to showcase world-leading sustainability in health and social care, and the third sector should have a key role to play in its delivery.

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