Two young women sitting talking at table

The Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI) The Glasgow School of Art and help promote breastfeeding

Wednesday, 3rd August 2016
Innovation Centres

The Digital Health & Care Institute’s Experience Labs, an initiative developed by DHI core partner, The Glasgow School of Art, is contributing to efforts to help increase breastfeeding rates it was revealed today 3 August 2016. Over the last few months the Experience Labs team, a group of specialist design researchers based at the GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus in Forres, have collaborated with mothers, health professionals and school pupils to explore ideas of how to promote breastfeeding among new mothers.

This week – during World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) – researchers asked companies in Moray for their support. The Experience Labs team visited various businesses in Elgin on Tuesday (2 August) to talk about the on-going work to boost breastfeeding and invite comments on the pupils’ ideas.

Breastfeeding rates in the UK are among the lowest in Europe, and in Scotland, rates are poor and static. According to 2014/15 statistics from ISD Scotland, only 38% of babies were breastfed for at least six weeks. This is despite evidence that breastfeeding has the potential to improve the health of both mother and baby.

Among the sessions run by the Experience Labs researchers were workshops with pupils from Elgin Academy to design new ways of promoting the benefits of breastfeeding. The outcomes of the sessions include proposals for a special promotional campaign involving branding coffee cups, grocery bags and even cupcakes with a breastfeeding logo.Separate workshops were also held with mothers and health professionals to gather their views on how to increase breastfeeding rates.

Initial feedback from the Elgin businesses has been positive. Jacqui Cruickshank, owner of The Ditsy Teacup, was enthusiastic about the ideas. She said “I’m delighted to see such exciting ideas to promote breastfeeding. It’s definitely something The Ditsy Teacup would be keen to support”.

Experience Labs were developed by The Glasgow School of Art’s Institute of Design Innovation and are a core element in the Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI). They offer a special creative environment where researchers, service users, businesses and more can collaborate to find innovative solutions to the health and care challenges facing our society. The project is one of more than 100 projects currently within DHI.

“The benefits of breast feeding are clear, but as statistics show the UK has among the lowest uptake rate in Europe,” says lead researcher, Dr Tara French. “Through this Experience Lab we brought together health professionals, academics, new mothers and young people and we gave them the opportunity to work on designing new ways of promoting breastfeeding.”

Professor Grant Cumming, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, of NHS Grampian, welcomed the initiative. “This was a fantastic opportunity for health professionals, new mothers and school pupils to work with DHI’s Experience Labs design team on initiatives to boost breastfeeding rates,” he said. “Using the Experience Labs’ design tools and methods was a completely new approach. We hope very much that it will help us in our endeavours to improve the image of breastfeeding and increase uptake in the UK.”

‘’We are delighted that one of DHI’s projects has helped identity solutions to help to tackle Scotland¹s low breastfeeding rates. This lab demonstrates the impact that our work is having and how we, at the Digital Health & Care Institute are playing a vital role in addressing Scotland¹s health and care challenges.’’ Justene Ewing, CEO, Digital Health & Care Institute


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Notes for Editors

World Breastfeeding Week is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), a global network of individuals and organisations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding.

Experience Labs

Experience Labs were developed by The Glasgow School of Art’s Institute of Design Innovation. They offer a safe and creative environment where researchers, businesses, civic partners and service users can collaborate to find innovative solutions to the health and care challenges facing our society.  They are the core element in the Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI), a Scottish Innovation Centre funded by the Scottish Funding Council, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

In the Experience Labs Researchers use current and emerging design research methods to engage with partners and participants, who are encouraged to share their own experiences. Real-life practice is often replicated to allow new technology, services, processes and behaviour to be trialled rapidly. The resulting ideas become candidates for further research and development, allowing them to achieve their full potential.

Digital Health & Care Institute

Formed in 2013 as a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Centre, the Digital Health & Care Institute brings together health and care organisations and technology firms to produce innovative new technologies that will improve people’s lives and contribute to Scotland’s economic growth. Part of DHI unique innovation model is the Experience Laboratories, developed by The Glasgow School of Art.

DHI’s administrative host is the University of Strathclyde

DHI’s stakeholder parners are: NHS24, Glasgow School of Art, University of Strathclyde, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

DHI was a finalist in the Market Gravity Innovation category at the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards in 2015.

Justene Ewing was identified by Holyrood Magazine as one of Scotland’s top 100 most influential people in technology 2015.

For more information visit
Twitter: @dhiscotland
Facebook: Digital Health and Care Institute

The Glasgow School of Art

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) was founded in 1845 as one of the first Government Schools of Design, as a centre of creativity promoting good design for the manufacturing industries of Glasgow. Today, it is internationally recognised as one of Europe’s leading university-level institutions for the visual and creative disciplines. The GSA’s studio-based approach to research and teaching brings disciplines together to explore problems in new ways to find new innovative solutions. The studio also creates the environment for the inter-disciplinary work, peer learning, critical inquiry, experimentation and prototyping, that help to address many of the major challenges confronting society and contemporary business. The Glasgow School of Art has three campuses: Mackintosh Campus in Garnethill, Glasgow; Highlands and Islands at Altyre near Forres; Singapore at Singapore Institute of Technology.

 About Scottish Funding Council

SFC launched the Innovation Centre programme in 2012, working in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to support transformational collaboration between universities and businesses. The Centres aim to enhance innovation and entrepreneurship across Scotland’s key economic sectors, create jobs and grow the economy.

Innovation Centres have backing from industry and draw on all of Scotland’s research expertise in the relevant sector to work on problems and opportunities identified by industry. They will add value through secondments, industrial studentships, spaces for collaborative work and shared access to equipment.


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