Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Posted: October 23rd, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Housing | Comments Off
This was not a good week to be old. The Intergenerational Foundation launched a report in the House of Commons declaring that people in their sixties whose children have left home are “house –hoarding” and should be made to “downsize” into something more appropriate for their age.
This has troubled me all week for a number of reasons. Putting aside the impractical, if not outrageous, assertion that the Government should be able to prescribe how people live in their homes, the strong whiff of intergenerational envy is worrying.
There is no doubt that we have an acute housing crisis in the UK. This has been caused by a number of factors including the failure over many years to build enough housing, especially affordable homes. Rocketing house prices have made it very difficult for our young people to get on the housing ladder.
At the same time, we have a care crisis building. Strapped councils are no longer going to be able to offer care for all our older people once their assets are spent, the ones the Intergenerational Foundation think should be downsizing.
So before we encourage older people to sell the large family home, is it not worth looking at the bigger intergenerational picture?
Those large, supposedly half empty, family homes are often now refuges for adult children trying to save up for their own homes (and sometimes the collateral for such homes) or places where the grandchildren are looked after whilst their parents work to pay mortgages.
Other families are contemplating moving in together to share the care of the children and the elderly. Instant annexes such as iHus can now be installed to add separate accommodation in the usually larger gardens of the old family house.
Schemes such as Homeshare Eden encourage older people to rent out spare bedrooms to cash-strapped students who can provide them with companionship and some help around the home in return for a reduced rent.
These “house- hoarding” baby boomers are our friends, our parents and our grandparents – who may need our care. If we are to tackle the housing (and care) crisis, we should look for real intergenerational solutions – not one generation evicting another.
Posted: October 21st, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Offers and competitions | Comments Off
We know you love our handmade double handled teapots and now here’s your chance to win one in time for Christmas!
Simply buy anything from our range before 6 November 2011 *
and we will put you in a draw to win one. Simple.
The usual terms and conditions apply (HERE).
The winner will be announced on our blog.
START SHOPPING NOW…http://www.thefutureperfectcompany.com/
* NOW EXTENDED TO 24 DECEMBER!
And the winner is….Neil from Fife. Well done, Neil! We will be getting in touch to arrange delivery.
Posted: October 20th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health, Inclusive design | No Comments »
This week at Naidex South saw the launch by the Years Ahead Partnership and Newcastle University of a feasibility study into a scheme for rating Assistive Technology.
Demographic changes and pressure on public finances are leading to radical changes in the statutory provision of simple assistive technology. Simple aids for daily living – such as walking sticks, mobility aids, tools for arthritic fingers and swollen feet – are now increasingly appearing in a variety of existing and new channels. You only need to look in the small ads of the Sunday newspaper supplements.
However, there are challenges to the emerging market. Public awareness of the existence and benefits of simple living aids is low, the take up is limited by stigma and negative associations of old age and disability. And healthcare professionals are nervous about such developments – not surprisingly given the Office of Fair Trading’s recent investigation into unscrupulous traders taking advantage of ill-informed consumers.
This joint study looked into the feasibility of a consumer-led product rating system which would raise awareness, improve customer confidence, help de-stigmatise the products and offer re-assurance to professionals.
The majority of people surveyed were in favour of an online consumer rating model with a panel or accreditation system to provide further rigour. A kind of “Trip-advisor” for assistive technology and living aids.
We were one of the organisations consulted as part of the study and share Maggie Winchcombe of Years Ahead’s view that “such a scheme has a vital part to play in empowering us all as consumers of [Assistive Technology], designed to help us live our lives to the full into great old age”.
And wearing our designer hats, we believe too that such a scheme will also encourage designers, manufacturers and retailers to really focus on the consumer – and this means producing and selling products which are well designed, innovative and attractive as well as functional.
The next stage for the “Raising the Standard” team is further research and consultation about the design of the rating scheme. We will keep you posted.
Image - ShowerSandal
Posted: October 20th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health, Housing | No Comments »
Yesterday, I donned my Healthy Back Bag (trying to walk the walk!) and took myself off to Naidex South, the largest independent living show in the South.
Naidex South was held at ExCel, not my favourite venue as it involves a trip to Docklands which notwithstanding the hype to the contrary is not really within easy reach of the City. And ExCel is expensive to reach by taxi, the only sensible option for some for some of my friends with restricted mobility.
That niggle apart, it was a well organised if slightly smaller event than I was expecting. Whether this is because of the financial climate or the fact that this is the little sister to the flagship Naidex National held in Birmingham, it was not clear.
But Naidex of whatever variety is a good opportunity to meet up with friends and colleagues and to see what new products and innovations are being introduced to the independent living market.
My main reason for going yesterday was to attend the launch of “Raising the Standard”, the final report of a feasibility study for a much-needed scheme to rate, assistive technology. The project partners are Years Ahead Partnership and Newcastle University. More details about this important study HERE.
I also managed to catch up with Denise Stephens from on-line design community, Enabled by Design and to say hello to Duncan Edwards who was doing a roaring trade selling the innovative and groundbreaking Trabasack. I also met up with Richard Child, a product designer fresh out of Falmouth University, who has very impressively just set up his own company, Hymid R&D to bring one of his healthcare designs to market.
There were a number of new products and innovations which caught my eye.
iHus Access is a new company which specialises in the design, construction and delivery of bespoke timber-framed living spaces – instant granny annexes which are made in their factory and then installed in the garden. I will be writing more about this interesting new product in a later post.
Disabledgear.com is a free-ads website for the buying and selling of second hand equipment. Really useful if you are caring for an elderly relative and need more equipment or indeed a way to dispose of specialist equipment if you are clearing the home of an older relative.
Finally, the University of Hertfordshire were showcasing their work on the use of robots as therapeutic “toys” for children at the middle to lower end of the autistic spectrum who have little ability to communicate with the outside world. The team have been using KASPAR, an interactive minimally expressive humanoid robot, as a social mediator which has the potential to relieve autistic children’s sense of isolation. Fascinating. I should say that the project needs more funding to take it to the next level. For more information, contact Dr Kerstin Dautenhahn, Professor of Artificial Intelligence – firstname.lastname@example.org
I had been looking forward to the Independent Living Show Home but whilst the organisers had made the best use of what they had, this part of the exhibition was fairly limited in what it showcased and I was not the only one to leave disappointed. With the right input and investment, this could be one of the jewels in Naidex South’s crown in future years.
Posted: October 20th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Retirement | No Comments »
Yesterday it was announced that around one million people are to face unpaid tax bills of at least £600. Of this one million people, more than 150,000 pensioners will receive this shocking news.
This is the second year a new computer system has identified discrepancies with tax and national insurance and these unwelcome letters from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will start landing on doormats from this weekend.
Very fortuitously this week I met someone who could help. Judith Richards is the South Central Regional Co-ordinator of TOP, an independent free tax advice service for older people on low incomes (less than £17,000 per year) who cannot afford to pay for professional advice.
The service is provided by volunteer tax professionals who really know their way around the tax system and can help with any income tax matter including replying to a letter from HMRC. You may simply wish to have a tax health check for peace of mind and to know that everything is in order.
So how do you get help?
Very simply. Just telephone the TOP lo-call helpline on 0845 601 3321 or 01308 488066. If the office is not manned, leave your name and telephone number on the voicemail and TOP will call you back.
All interviews with an adviser are by appointment and in private. You may also seek telephone advice if your query is a simple one. Home visits will be arranged in cases of disability.
If you have any queries, contact TOP on the helpline or write to them.
TaxHelp for Older People
Pineapple Business Park
Dorset DT6 5DB
For more information, visit http://www.taxvol.org.uk/index.htm
(And if you do contact TOP, please mention The Future Perfect Company so Judith knows I kept my promise to spread the word!)
Posted: October 17th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Inclusive design | Comments Off
Today “The Times” published a “silver manifesto”, listing 50 ways to make life better for older people.
The list is rather eclectic ranging from major issues such as treating older people with respect and keeping them out of hospital to minor niggles such as making the text on menus bigger and banning inaudible public announcements.
There is nothing specific about putting ageing at the centre of all design – although “Reward inventions and innovations that make life easier for the elderly” scrapes in at #49.
I think that if we encouraged all our creative minds to consider older people when designing products and services , it would automatically follow that menus would be more legible and announcements clearer. And by doing this we would be going some way to showing older people the respect they deserve.
And actually if we sorted out all the niggly stuff, life would be easier for all of us, whatever our age.
Image: Push out plug by Glen Crombie, Designing for the Future Competition, Collyer’s 2010
Posted: October 17th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | No Comments »
A recently published survey of 13-18 year olds asked for their views on the best/most important inventions made during the past 25 years. It revealed an insight into the thinking of this mysterious age group - referred to by Alan Coren as that miserable period between Meccano and sex. Their values are idiosyncratic to say the least, rating fake tan (fifth) more highly than the Internet (19th) and mobile phones (16th). Their grasp of history is a bit off too: they have the Apple Mac and hair straighteners on the list. Hair straighteners came in at 17th, again ahead of the Internet, and also ahead of satellite navigation. I seem to remember that hair straighteners were the Christmas gift of choice among teenage girls in the sixties.
It is sobering to think that people in the top end of this age group have the vote, and that there are plans to bring in sixteen and seventeen year olds. How will they be able to make balanced judgements about the problems of the euro zone and the Common Agricultural Policy when they are capable of elevating the importance of fake tan above the Internet. But it probably doesn’t matter since few of them will bother to vote. Very few 18-25 year olds currently trudge down to the polling stations, and there is no reason to think their younger siblings will be any better. It’s a curious thing that politicians deplore the low turn-outs at elections and yet, as Harold Wilson used to put, yearn to “place the levers of power within the reach of the young”, which will serve only to drive the percentages down. What they should do is to hold all elections on a Sunday, the only sensible thing the French can manage to do, give two votes to all electors over forty except pensioners who should get five.
It is slightly disconcerting that several items in the juvenile top twenty I know nothing at all about. I have no idea what an Xbox is, and although I nod knowingly when iPods are mentioned I have only a vague idea about what they do, and have never knowingly seen one. I’m struggling to think what I would have nominated for the top twenty if quizzed in, say, 1960. Antibiotics I suppose, organ transplantation perhaps, certainly the telly. I seem to remember being quite keen on the atom bomb at the time, though I hope I would have had the good taste not to write that down. Tipped fags were seen as quite an advance, too, I recall – Craven A, “for your throat’s sake” were all the rage. But not all inventions were good – drip dry nylon shirts, for example, to which my mother was firmly attached.
Also in the news this week, a bunch of young teachers (highly trained professionals) in Hull have unwisely aired their views, on a publicly accessible social networking site, about their pupils whom they clearly find repellent. They attribute the vileness of their charges to the popularity of incest in the city. I don’t remember anything of that, and I’m sure I would have noticed.
Posted: October 15th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - Collyer's, Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Inclusive design | No Comments »
Following on from exhibiting at Generation Expo last weekend, I was asked to talk to product design students at the University of Sussex about The Future Perfect Company and our design ethos.
The students are about to start their third year projects and are looking for inspiration and ideas.
Other speakers included a charity wanting to redesign their communcation switches, a commercial kitchen supplier looking for ways to improve some of their products and a government- sponsored intermediary wanting to puts students in touch with SMEs with design challenges. It struck me as a win win situation for both students and design companies. Students get experience of working on real life design problems and SMEs get the chance to engage some of the most creative brains in the country.
I shared my experience of working on the “Designing for the Future” competition with the University of Brighton and Collyer’s Sixth Form College.
The University of Sussex is itself a baby boomer, celebrating its 50th birthday this year and I hope that at least some of the audience will think about designing products which meet the challenges we all face as we get older.
Posted: October 12th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Inclusive design | No Comments »
A very busy Summer saw us showcasing our Designing for the Future competition at various events throughout the country culminating last weekend with a pop up gallery at Generation Expo at the Brighton Centre.
Generation Expo is a new lifestyle event aimed at the over 40s which combines an eclectic mix of music, motors, sports, arts and fashion.
Curated and organised by the very impressive Hanna Mawbey, our stand showcased several future-gazing projects from the University of Brighton’s Faculty of Arts.
Ashley Temudo showed his thought-provoking Super-able Table. This striking piece is designed to challenge people’s perception of weakness and disability. Though the table appears “weak”, the many holes in fact enhance the functionality of the piece, acting as holders for mugs and glasses.
Sophia Fong brought along her elegant Displacement Jug which explores how liquids can be measured by eye rather than by recourse to fiddly and often difficult to read calibrations. Chloe Meineck’s The Hub is a multi sensory device which stores the music soundtrack of a person’s life to create a shared and engaging reminiscence activity for a dementia sufferer and their family. Also on show were prototypes of Harry Trimble’s interactive play mat with accompanying storybook which encourages young and old to play and exercise together and Jessica Hung’s supermarket navigator which seeks to tackle the problems that elderly people face in supermarket shopping by helping them find products easily. Also prompting discussion was Craig Barrow’s bio-degradable Living Memorial Stone.
Visitors were able to try out Lucy MacDonald’s The Public Rocking Bench which aims to combat loneliness by encouraging people to sit and rock together.
Hanna Mawbey’s beautiful medical aids were much admired. Hanna’s work explores whether carefully designed, aesthetically pleasing medical equipment can make the devices desirable objects in themselves. Her attractive silver inhaler seemed to prove the point, earning her at least one commission!
And finally we showed the model and plans for Brighton’s very own Grand Design. Kevin McCloud’s famous eco house which was first erected in London’s Docklands live in six days in 2008 for Channel 4’s Grand Designs Live, is being reborn in the courtyard of the University of Brighton’s Faculty of Arts.
The House That Kevin Built model itself attracted a great deal of interest constructed as it is of recycled materials including what looks like mini Shredded Wheat, lolly sticks, Murray Mints and fish fingers!
We had a lot of fun at this, the inaugural, Generation Expo and were delighted with the response we received from our visitors of all ages to our gallery and to the thought-provoking ways the students had sought to address the many challenges of ageing.
Lots of hard work went into making this event possible and big thanks go to Rachel at GenExpo, Hanna Mawbey, Anne Boddington (Dean, Faculty of Arts), Andrew Scanlan, James Parsons and all our student designers and helpers (Ashley, Sophia, Lucy, Jes, Chloe, Camilla, Craig, Florence, Sam, Zosia, Elea) and supporters.
Posted: October 7th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | Comments Off
When you are retired days are very much alike, but yesterday stood out. First, I went to the local surgery where I had two back-to-back appointments with nurses – one for routine blood pressure and general check up, the second for a ‘flu jab. The first nurse, Helen, was running on time, the second, Paula, behind by thirty minutes. I mentioned this to Helen when I went in and she promptly transferred the ‘flu jab job over to herself, so easing the pressure on her colleague and saving me a long wait. She also noticed that I am due a blood test for cholesterol in November and offered to do that too. In fifteen minutes blood was drawn, injection given, BP measured, and I hopped onto the scales. If only everywhere in the public sector could be so efficient and flexible. It seems to me that the clinical staff in the NHS are fine, it’s the box wallahs who run things that are the problem; so are they obsessed by their own processes they have forgotten why they’re there.
Blood pressure was fine – no Olympic athlete could boast better – but I was amazed by the reading on the scales; even allowing for car keys and change for parking it was a bit shocking, but no comment from Nurse Helen. We did the usual tap dance round how many units of alcohol I consume a week, and off I went.
Encouraged by this clean bill of health I nipped over the road to the Royal Oak to “use” some alcohol as we now say and I noticed a number of police officers, some of them pretty senior, milling about around the house next door. It was until recently the vicarage but is now undergoing major refurbishment in preparation for occupation by some aristocrats. When I returned from the pub an hour or so later they were still there. At ten o’clock I was preparing to turn in having exhausted myself watching the final of The Great British Bake-off when there was loud knocking on the door – two large police officers had come to tell me that human remains had been found on the building site, that the area had been cordoned off as a crime scene, and that a police car would be stationed near my back gate overnight. There was no cause for alarm.
Given that the house next door, like mine, had been built on a churchyard it seemed pretty obvious to me what they are dealing with (next week’s headlines in the local press will nevertheless read BODY FOUND IN GRAVEYARD SHOCK) but the worst has to be assumed. A forensic pathologist is due this morning from London to determine the age of the remains. Isn’t there one in Leeds or Sheffield, both of which have departments of forensic medicine in the medical schools? The problem now is that if the remains are more than a hundred years old the police will melt away, but they will be replaced by archaeologists whose sense of urgency is rather less than that shown by the rozzers, understandable given their speciality, and the building work may never be completed. I gather that the local press are sending a cub reporter to interview me. I’ll have to make stuff up if there is to be any chance of hitting the front page – dark hints about the vicar, perhaps.