Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Posted: April 30th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Inclusive design | No Comments »
I frequently write about interesting new designs on this blog and just as frequently am asked where they can be bought. Well, now you can own one of the great designs which featured in our Designing for the Future competition!
I am delighted that one of the products entered into our Designing for the Future student design competition with the University of Brighton is now on sale in the Design Museum shop.
Sophia’s Fong’s elegant “Measuring Carafe” measures identical amounts of liquid within variously shaped sections, allowing the user “to see” how much liquid they are using rather than trying to read fiddly graduations.
The Measuring Carafe (as well as Sophia’s equally stunning Displacement Jug) was much admired by the judges in last year’s Designing for the Future competition and it is fantastic that it is now available to buy.
To go to the Design Museum’s website and buy this elegant and unique design, CLICK HERE
You will also be able to see Sophia Fong’s work as part of the “Designing for the Future” showcase in the Design Zone at this year’s Mobility Roadshow, 21-23 June
Posted: April 30th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health, Inclusive design | No Comments »
Can design improve the lives of people living with dementia? This is one of the questions posed by the latest Design Council Challenge.
Last week, I went to the Design Council to see the winning projects which range from a dementia support dog to an appetite stimulator.
As it is now predicted that as many as one in three of us will experience some form of dementia before we die, this is a very timely project.
Dementia Dog is a service providing assistance dogs to people with dementia, helping them lead more fulfilled, independent and stress-free lives.
A sense of routine can often disintegrate for people with dementia. Dogs can be trained to live to a consistent routine. Ultimately, each dog will be trained with the person with dementia and their carer so all three can operate as a team.
Knowing how important dogs are to many people, this sounds like a good idea though given the investment involved, the number of people who will benefit will presumably be relatively small.
Grouple is a secure, private online social network helping people share the responsibilities of caring for someone with dementia.
Members of a care network easily post their schedules, ideas and experiences of caring, dividing responsibilities and coordinating efforts to provide consistent and regular care without one single person being overburdened.
The Grouple team has thought about people in the care network without access to a computer, suggesting that they use postcards to add information. I’m not sure about this aspect. Would it be better to encourage everyone online?
I like the Grouple and think it has enormous potential. The challenges will be getting the interface right and also making sure the right people are in, and contributing to, the network.
Buddi is a wristband personal alarm that people will be happy to wear and can send alerts from anywhere to buddi’s support services.
The buddiband is comfortable, discreet and waterproof. To avoid battery replacement and daily charging, it is fitted with the most powerful possible rechargeable battery – which offers at least two months of battery life – and is designed to be as power-efficient as can be.
The design of buddi is neat and stylish. The challenge with alert systems is all about the support rather than the technology – who is alerted and why and what happens to the information. A friend of mine regularly removes her care alarm because she finds it annoying and she does not want to inadvertently set it off and “cause a fuss”. I look forward to seeing how this product develops.
Trading Times is an online service that matches carers with local businesses for flexible paid work. It is free to carers and paid for on a transactional basis by employers.
Trading Times will provide carers with access to opportunities to earn, the ability to retain and develop work skills, stay connected with society and maintain a sense of self-worth.
This is a good idea, particularly for the many carers trying to juggle their caring responsibilities with their careers. However, I think employers might need to be convinced why they should choose carers rather than the many people prepared at the moment to work part time who have no such responsibilities (which is why there is dearth of flexible jobs for carers in the first place). Some challenges there to be overcome, I think.
The Ode is a fragrance-release system designed to stimulate appetite among people with dementia. The mains-powered unit releases three food fragrances a day, adjustable to coincide with mealtimes.
The Ode’s designers believe that this discreet system is less stigmatising and more inspiring than an alarm or constant reminders from carers to eat. Initial research suggests it can stimulate real hunger subliminally. Scents are pleasant and evocative and can also improve mood.
This is a nice, simple, relatively low cost consumer product with lots of potential – I really liked it – and the challenge will be in getting it from prototype and testing stages onto the shelves.
Congratulations should go to all the teams involved in getting these projects to this stage and in doing so, demonstrating design’s potential to confront a global problem and change lives for the better.
The next step for all five teams will be turning these interesting ideas into reality. And I wish them all well.
For more information about the Design Council Challenge, go to http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/our-work/challenges/Health/Living-well-with-Dementia1/Event/
We are about to launch a new range of products designed to help people with living with dementia communicate with their families and carers. Watch this space!
Posted: April 25th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Legal - employment, Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Retirement | No Comments »
Today the Supreme Court handed down the much awaited decision on the Seldon age discrimination case. Here legal expert, Ronnie Fox from Fox lawyers explains what it means from an employer’s point of view
A couple of years ago the in-house counsel of a major corporate client asked me to advise whether a standard retirement age of 65 would be in breach of the age discrimination legislation. Then he said, “I don’t want you to say that justification depends on whether the policy is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”; that doesn’t help me”. He wanted a definitive answer.
It is tragic that Seldon (and Homer too) have been all the way up to the Supreme Court only for the decisions as to whether the particular circumstances in those two cases can indeed be justified to be remitted back to the Employment Tribunal. The Employment Tribunal will have to decide whether on the specific facts a mandatory retirement age of 65 was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Employers will just have to wait and see what the tribunal decides. How much simpler it was when the law permitted a default retirement age! The need for a further hearing in Seldon will probably come as a tremendous disappointment to the parties. Today’s decision will not make it easy to give clear advice to clients as to what retirement age is acceptable.
On the positive side, the Supreme Court has given some guidance. In future it will be harder for employees and partners who are required to retire at a compulsory retirement age to argue that they have been discriminated against if the reasons behind the compulsory retirement policy have been well thought out, carefully explained and alternative ages considered. The Supreme Court seemed to accept that the reasons given for the policy at Clarkson Wright and Jakes, (namely, (i) giving associates an opportunity of partnership within a reasonable time, and thereby an incentive to remain with the firm; (ii) facilitating workforce planning by knowing when vacancies were to be expected; (iii) limiting the need to expel underperforming partners, thus contributing to a congenial and supportive culture within the firm) were all potentially consistent with the social policy objectives in the Council Directive.
So we shall have to wait to see what happens. What is clear is that abolishing the default retirement age has not been the end of the discussion and has introduced all sorts of uncertianty for businesses. It will remain to be seen whether this lack of clarity will mean more or less jobs for older workers.
Posted: April 24th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health | 3 Comments »
Following on from last night’s BBC’s Panorama about the appalling treatment of one care home resident, this guest blog by Carefound, a specialist provider of home care services and dementia care to elderly people (www.carefound.co.uk) is a timely reminder of what should be considered when thinking about elderly care either for yourself or a loved one.
Considering care for yourself or a loved one is a hugely important decision which should lead to a much higher quality of life and the ability to remain comfortable, safe and happy in an environment of choice. However, prior to implementing life changes or enlisting help there are various things that should always be considered.
- When should I begin to think about elderly care?
All too often the process of considering elderly care is the response to an accident, illness or significant decline in health resulting in people being forced to make life changing decisions at short notice. It is therefore encouraged that individuals and families consider their future needs at the earliest stage possible. Remember, planning never does any harm and it is important to ensure that individuals are in control of decisions regarding their care to the greatest extent possible.
2. How do I know if I need elderly care?
Accepting help for the first time can often be difficult for individuals and their families. Before seeking support try to understand what your exact needs are. You may be seeking care because of a specialist condition such as dementia or following a suggestion from a friend or family member. It may simply be that you require a small amount of help at home in the form of domestic help or companionship. Enlisting support does not have to involve moving into a care home or even full-time help in your own home.
Get as much advice as possible and talk things through with friends, family and health professionals such as your GP. You may also wish to speak with a care provider directly – a good organisation should be open to discussing your situation with you and also offering examples of how other families have been able to improve their quality of life.
3. What care options are available to me?
The circumstances of each individual and family can differ – any chosen care option should meet your needs at all times.
Many people prefer to receive a personalised service of care in their own home, and a provider such as Carefound can offer a high quality, flexible home care service which can range from 1 hour per day to full-time live-in care. This is increasingly viewed as a genuine alternative to residential care and is especially attractive for couples.
There are also various residential care options available today, including:
- Residential care home – accommodation, meals and personal care provided in a communal environment without nursing care.
- Residential nursing home – accommodation, meals and personal care in a communal environment with nursing care and qualified nurses in attendance.
- Assisted living – also referred to as extra care housing, care villages or close care housing, these facilities typically comprise apartments / bungalows with care / support available on-site.
- Sheltered / retirement housing – typically apartments with an on-site warden and alarm system, but no care provision.
4. How do I find out about a local care service?
Before making a decision about care you should get a feel for what options are available to you. Of course, speaking with friends and relatives is a good first step in order to get any personal recommendations. You will also be able to obtain a list of all local care services through the Care Quality Commission and / or the Adult Services department of your local authority.
5. What should I look for in a care service?
When considering a specific care service try to draw up a list of questions that are important to you and where possible seek support from a friend or relative as a second opinion. Also try to obtain information from existing clients of the service and ensure that they are happy with the care they receive.
Important aspects of any service to consider include:
- The basis on which care is provided – is the service flexible and focused on your specific requirements?
- How staff are engaged – are they fully employed and subject to a comprehensive recruitment and selection process? Are they well rewarded with the genuine opportunity to develop?
- Staff should be sufficiently skilled – do they undergo a through induction programme and receive ongoing training in all aspects of the care they provide?
- Help with specialist conditions – where relevant, do staff receive training in specialist conditions such as dementia?
- Management of the service – who is responsible for the day-to-day management of care and who has overall responsibility? If part of a franchise or a national organisation it may not simply be a case of being able to rely on the ‘brand’.
6. What will my care cost?
The cost of care will vary significantly depending on the type and quality of service purchased. Home care can be purchased on an hourly or a live-in basis, with the latter typically costing a similar amount to residential care.
The average cost of residential care in the UK is approximately £530 per week, increasing to £700 per week for those who need nursing care. However, fees vary depending on the location and quality of home and can therefore be substantially more.
7. Who will pay for my care?
Prior to receiving care you are entitled to a care assessment from the Adult Services department of your local authority. This will include a financial assessment in order to determine if you are eligible for help in paying for your care. The financial assessment will review both your capital and income. In many cases, if an individual owns their home and a spouse isn’t still living in it, they are likely be deemed a “self-funder” and will receive no help from the local authority (unless they require nursing care in which case a contribution will be available).
If you are required to self-fund your care it is important to remember that there are many financial options available such as equity release or an annuity contract and you should always seek professional financial advice with regards to these.
8. Will my care be reviewed?
Any care provider should monitor and review your individual circumstances on a regular basis in order to ensure that the service provided meets your individual needs. The provision of care should be a flexible, evolving process in which you are actively involved.
9. What if I have a complaint about my care?
If you wish to complain about the care you receive it should always be made easy for you to do so. Be sure to read and understand a care provider’s complaints procedure, and remember that individuals and families can complain to external bodies including the local authority, the Care Quality Commission or the Local Government Ombudsman.
10. What if I want to change my care provider?
Choice and control is a key aspect of enlisting care services and hence it is important to understand the terms under which services are enlisted before doing so. The terms of services purchased should be fully documented (including costs), and never hesitate to query these should you or your family have any concerns.
Source: Carefound, Laing and Buisson.
Posted: April 19th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Miscellaneous | No Comments »
It is very easy to think of older people as passive recipients of our new ideas and innovations and to forget that many of them sowed the seeds of the great technological advances which we are exploiting today.
My father, Michael Aldrich is a case in point. Now in his 70s, when he was in his late 30s, he connected a domestic television by telephone line to a real-time transaction processing computer and invented what he called teleshopping. Today it is called online shopping, e-commerce and e-business and is a fast growing world-wide multi-billion dollar business.
At that time, pre-internet, the idea of being able to shop from home was at best fanciful. As he explains : “Back in 1979 the first wave of personal computers had appeared. There was not much useful software but there was sufficient evidence of potential to enable many people to ask ‘what if.’ One idea being considered in academe and among futurists was teleshopping. The dream had to include an affordable and usable computer device in the home. At the time the personal computers were expensive and distinctly nerdish. Also some relatively inexpensive telecommunication link in the home was needed together with networked computers that could handle very high volumes of transactions being processed simultaneously”.
The opportunity came in with the arrival of a new television : “Early in 1979 a 26” colour television was delivered to my office… With it came a note that asked me for my assessment of it. The Rediffusion Group manufactured TVs so it wasn’t unusual to be given prototypes for testing… During that time we learned that it was a prototype of a new TV designed for a new service to be offered by the Post Office..called ‘Prestel’.
Initial research on the system proved unfruitful and the television languished in a corner of the office for some time until engineer, Peter Champion asked if he could strip it and find out what was inside. What he found was a chip set with a chip modem, a character generator and an auto-dialler that could hold four telephone numbers. This was a television which could communicate
My father explains his eureka moment as follows : “In the summer of 1979,.. my wife and I were walking our Labrador, Tessa. We were relaxing, talking as ever about our children, just the usual family domestic things and I was thinking that we could use some assistance with the boring weekly supermarket shopping expedition. All of a sudden I thought about the television and hooking it up to the supermarket and getting the supermarket to deliver the groceries. I told her my idea and we rushed back to the house and I started thinking, writing and planning.
It was simple. We had a domestic TV that could communicate, a computer that not only could handle transaction processing from multiple users but it could also communicate (network) with other computers…. Using an inexpensive domestic TV with a remarkably simple human interface, it could be used by anyone without training. With its ability to dial into any computer via a normal domestic telephone line and, using a standard communications and human interface, it could be used for multiple applications. It wasn’t restricted to talking to just one computer for one function. It had genuine open market independent teleshopping capabilities. And you could still watch TV! It was hugely exciting…”
To celebrate World Intellectual Property Day 2012, the Intellectual Property Office is asking people to vote for their favourite British ‘Visionary Innovator’. Oddly, my father is in competition with Simon Cowell! So, online shopping or the Xfactor? You choose! To vote, CLICK HERE
Image and quotes courtesy of the Michael Aldrich Archive
Posted: April 15th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health, Housing, Inclusive design | No Comments »
As we get older, stairs can begin to become a problem. So what are the alternatives, particularly if you do not want to move?
The most obvious option is a stairlift. Stairlifts nowadays are very flexible – they can be bought (new or reconditioned) or rented, can be installed on straight or curved stairs and come in a choice of fabrics. But despite the manufacturers trying to persuade us otherwise, there still a stigma attached to stairlifts and the current designs are not especially stylish. They can also be expensive.
Another possibility is the installation of a home lift. Up till now, retrofitting a house with a lift has been difficult and very costly. However the new Stilz Duo Home Lift has a unique dual rail structure which does not require load bearing walls. It has a self contained drive mechanism, a small footprint and plugs into a normal 13 amp power socket and can be installed anywhere in the home. The models on the website do look slightly awkward but now that the engineering has been sorted out, it is not hard to see discrete home lifts becoming a popular choice, particularly in new builds.
If you just need some extra help with the stairs, another simpler, cheaper, option is the Stair Steady. The Stair Steady was first designed by Ruth Amos when she was 16 as part of her GCSE Resistant Material Course. After her teacher’s father’s suffered a stroke, Ruth was set the challenge of designing a product which allowed people to continue using the stairs safely. The Stair Steady is a secure rail with a folding handle which you move with you up and down the stairs and which locks securely when pushed. This is a very simple design and it has to be said that the white powder coated finish on the economy model is fairly basic but the company does offer classic and premier models which hopefully are more elegant.
It is really good to see some new solutions being introduced into the market and I do hope that the engineers will get together with the designers to develop really attractive models which will enhance and add value to our homes, in the same way that bathrooms have gone from being very functional environments to aspirational spaces.
Another possibility is to move your bedroom and bathroom downstairs. Converting a cloakroom to a wet room and moving into the dining room may be feasible but the current fashion for open plan living means that this is impossible in many UK homes. This is where theiHUS instant annex comes in.
iHUS manufacture prefabricated units offsite and simply winch them into place, either installing them as separate annexes in the garden or connecting them to the existing building. The iHUS is not as cheap option but it adds instant flexibility to a home’s layout and would be just as useful for boomerang kids or live-in nannies or carers.
However, before you finally decide to banish stairs, don’t forget that they are often the most convenient source of exercise. So rather than looking for ways to avoid them, another option is to improve your core fitness to make them easier to use. In her aptly-named DVD, Move It or Lose It!, Julie Robinson takes the class through various exercises which help strengthen the muscles which we need to perform everyday tasks such as walking up stairs. The DVD at £14 is substantially cheaper than any of the previous options (but does of course require a certain amount of residual strength).
iHUS will be exhibiting one of their modular units at this year’s Naidex
Posted: April 10th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Health, Inclusive design | No Comments »
The launch of the Flo, the innovative “standing and walking stick”, has got me thinking about the way we approach problems in our lives.
As we get older, it often becomes more difficult for us to get out of our armchairs.
The industry solution to this problem has been to re-design the chair, developing the “riser chair”which pushes the user gently to their feet. These chairs are very functional but tend to be pretty pricey, quite bulky and often old fashioned – looking. Not necessarily something you want dominating your living room.
Another way to help ourselves get out of our armchairs is to employ some sort of assistive device. The Flo wraps around the lower leg, locking it in position whilst employing upper body strength to allow the user to lever themselves out of the chair. The Flo has been designed by “Design for Life winner Ilsa Parry in conjunction with Philippe Starck and is a beautiful, sculptural piece of design (although I am yet to test its functionality). But the problem with an assistive aid is remembering to have it to hand. If I keep forgetting my glasses when I settle down to watch the television, will I always remember to have my Flo to hand to help me get up again? The Flo is also a rather pricey £299.
The third way to make sure we can always get out of our armchairs is to work on our core strength. In her aptly-named DVD, Move It or Lose It!, Julie Robinson takes the class through various exercises which help strengthen the muscles which we need to perform everyday tasks such as getting out of chairs or walking up stairs. The DVD at £14 is substantially cheaper than either the riser chair of the Flo but does require good health, adherence and effort on our part.
So, three very different ways to address one problem. What do you think?
Posted: April 4th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Fashion, Inclusive design | No Comments »
Last month saw the launch of a new fashion label which aims to design, manufacture and retail online couture quality clothing specifically designed for women who use wheelchairs – as well as clothing and jewellery for women who have difficulty with the manipulation of clasps, buttons and zips. Which will probably be most of us as we get older.
Xeni is the brainchild of Ann Oliver, an architect who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1990. Finding herself needing to use a wheelchair and having difficulties with catches on jewellery, as well as buttons and zips on clothing she decided to put her creativity to good use by designing garments for fashionable disabled women to provide them with wonderful clothes to wear.
This stylish Collection includes dresses and tunics (including evening wear), trousers, coats and jackets. As yet, there is no jewellery but Ann is hoping to put together a stable of jewellery designers who will work with her.
The three main innovations of the Xeni Collection are:
>Dresses, tunics, jackets and coats can be put on independently because they don’t come under the seat. For women who can stand they are also offered complete but are also designed for the seated figure.
>The use of the tunic and trousers look to elongate the body, whilst coping with the “prosthetic plumbing” that some people need. This look removes clutter from the waist, ensuring a much more elegant outline.
>The third for people who have difficulty manipulating buttons and zips, but who may or may not be able to stand, is that Xeni uses the hunting properties that magnets give to induce the two sides of garments to hunt each other out and close without hand intervention
Ann admits that the Xeni Collection is currently quite pricy (the evening dresses are around £220) but she hopes eventually to make the pieces more affordable.
It is fantastic to see designers focussing on fashion in this way and I do hope that this label takes off. It would also be great to see the jewellery industry embracing this area of design too.
For more information, CLICK HERE
Posted: April 3rd, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Inclusive design | No Comments »
A new walking and standing stick is about to be launched into the independent living sector by REthinkthings Ltd, a design led product brand led by Ilsa Parry who originally designed the product whilst being filmed for a BBC reality documentary.
“Flo” moves away from “traditional “medical” aesthetics in its design and actively seeks to introduce a new visual language to the industry”. It was conceived by Ilsa Parry when she took part in (and won) “Design for Life” , a student design competition run with Philippe Starck who dubbed it the “Salvador Dali stick”.
“Flo” strives to offer an alternative tool for transfer and mobility that is multifunctional, super strong, lightweight, elegant and funky all at the same time. The product has an innovative USP as it wraps around the lower leg, locking it in position whilst employing upper body strength to allow the user to lever themselves out of a chair, it can then be used as a walking cane.
“Flo” will be launched at Naidex international independent living show at Birmingham NEC on the 1st May 2012. It is available in 6 vibrant colours made from carbon fibre and includes an elegant and replaceable foot bung for grip and a wrist strap, both of which are available in custom colours. The product is designed to support up to 25 stone in weight when transferring from seated to standing and comes with a lifetime guarantee on functionality. The recommended retail price is a rather eye watering £299.
Having watched “Design for Life”, I have eagerly awaited this product and Ilsa Parry is to be congratulated in bringing this product to market in under 3 years. I love the scuptural quality of the design and the range of colours. The independent living market is sorely in need of designers like Ilsa Parry who are keen to rethink how we do things and offering new and interesting solutions. I, for one, will be making a beeline to her stand at Naidex next month to give “Flo” a try.
More details can be found HERE
Posted: April 2nd, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health, Miscellaneous | 4 Comments »
To what extent do people with dementia, even advanced dementia, have the right to have control and choice over their own lives? This is the question raised by a new experimental care facility in the Netherlands.
In Hogeweg, everyone lives in the moment. As The Times reported on Saturday, the streets and squares of this experimental Dutch community, with its cafes, restaurant and hairdressers, have been carefully designed to reassure, some would say deceive, the 152 residents. Everyone who lives there has severe dementia and few either know or care that their village is a secure nursing home where the supermarket and restaurant are manned by specialists in the care of the elderly.
Hogeweg occupies a large self-contained, low rise block on the edge of town. There is only one exit, through a hotel-style lobby which prevents residents wandering off. Inside there is a wide piazza with an ornamental fountain and a restaurant leads to a “high street” and several side roads, all with their own street signs and distinctive living areas. As there are no buses or cars, residents can come and go as they please. They leave their doors open and fill up trolleys with random items in the supermarket. If they get lost or confused, another “villager” (in reality a member of staff or a volunteer) is on hand to guide them home.
Each of Hogeweg’s 23 communal houses is designed in one of seven themed lifestyles based on detailed research into Dutch society: urban, Christian, upper class, homely, Indonesian, cultural and rustic. Rather hauntingly, The Times reports the story of one person originally allocated an “upper class” house being relocated when it was discovered that she had worked in a cafe in the inner city in her early 30s and that was the part that was “really her”.
The organisers of Hogeweg reject comparisons with The Truman Show, the Hollywood film starring Jim Carrey, in which reality turned out to be an elaborate television set, but acknowledge that they have created an illusion. They prefer to compare it to a theatre. The frontstage is what the residents experience as real. This is their normal life where they can go to the supermarket or the hairdresser’s. “But backstage it is a nursing home.”
So is it acceptable to deceive people in this way? Jeremy Hughes of the Alzheimers Society thinks not. Whilst he acknowledges that Hogeweg goes out of its way to make people with dementia feel comfortable and at home – and indeed the staff report people needing less medication and being calmer – he argues that “those providing care have a duty not to deceive or lie to the people they are caring for”. What do you think? Would it matter to you that your loved one was being to a certain extent deceived?
For more information, go to http://www.vivium.nl/hogewey_weesp