Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Posted: May 31st, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Health, Inclusive design | No Comments »
This year I was delighted to be asked to judge the Mine for Life RSA students awards.
The Mine for Life competition challenged students to design an assistive technology product which could be made through additive manufacturing using a consumer-driven and people-centred design philosophy. The cash award was supported by Enabled by Design and Loughborough University, with the winners being offered the chance to have the winning design additively manufactured.
Additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) has huge potential for the assistive technology sector – allowing products to be quickly and cheaply customised. And it was very exciting to be involved in selecting products to be prototyped in this way.
The winner of the RSA Mine for Life student award was David Emmerson from Loughborough University who focused on the difficult issue of the sexual wellbeing of servicemen who have suffered the effects of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). David, a draughtsman for the Royal Engineers, had taken a year off to study design and engineering. Having seen colleagues and friends suffering the devastating damage caused by IEDs, he was passionate about helping soldiers, typically young men, maintain their sex lives post injury. David had spoken to a range of stakeholders including Headley Court (Defence Medical Rehabilitation Unit) and Lovehoney, the lingerie and sex toy website to come up with his innovative design.
Highly Commended was James Langdon’s project from the University of Nottingham: Gentle Guider – a customised dog harness for guide dogs for the blind. Having previously volunteered for the Guide Dogs charity working with blind and partially sighted people, James became very aware of the close relationship that people develop with their guide dogs and how important they can be in supporting people’s independence. Through shadowing someone living with a visual impairment James realised that the harness used by her guide dog was heavy and ill-fitting. The familiar design for the guide dog harness is around 80 years old and James’ project focused on developing a new smarter, lightweight, glow in the dark harness customised to each individual guide dog.
from Liverpool John Moores University
was also commended for his project and particularly his prototype for The Bio morph-s walking aid which owed more in looks to a sports brand than the typical aluminium NHS crutch.
Three very different designs focussing on three very different areas but all three winners were clearly passionate about their projects and had carried out detailed and sensitive user-centred research. A great result!
Posted: May 30th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Miscellaneous | No Comments »
As preparations mount for this weekend’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, I was remembering how we celebrated the Silver Jubilee in the heady days of 1977.
I was 12 and living with my family in Buckinghamshire. Rather out of the blue, we received an invitation to a Silver Jubilee Party next door. As a large family of 4 children, it was unusual for us all to be invited somewhere together – especially somewhere we had never been before.
Next door was always a bit of a curiosity to me. It was a large house set back from the road and shielded by large trees. On the few occasions we had been up to front door, we had caught glimpses of what had seemed to be the height of 1970s glamour – mirrored walls. Our neighbours were older people whose sons had left home, abandoning a rather wonderful tree house, which we could just see – tantalisingly- from our garden.
“As we had been invited”, my mother insisted we all dressed up in red, blue and white and go along. It turned out to be a country dancing sort of affair. So for a very bizarre couple of hours we were twirled and whirled by complete strangers, presumably from the neighbourhood, whom we never saw or spoke to again.
But we had “celebrated” the Silver Jubilee and were able to confirm accordingly in our Busy Books when we went back to school. I remember being pretty baffled by the whole thing. Perhaps it will make more sense this time round..
Posted: May 28th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, New products! | No Comments »
Mind Dice - dementia product
Last week I braved a blisteringly hot Holloway Road in North London to attend the Community Network Roadshow at the London Resource Centre (“Do you mean our old library?” asked the taxi driver).
I had been invited by Elizabeth Shaw, the Community Network’s Social Inclusion Manager. The Community Network is a charity which uses telephone conferencing technology to help the socially isolated, for example through telephone befriending.
One of the aims of the Roadshow was to open people’s minds to new ideas about healthy ageing and Elizabeth thought that the people attending “would love to learn about The Future Perfect Company and take a look at some of your wonderful products”.
And so happily it proved. We had a wonderful response to all our products and especially to our mission to bring good design to older people. Our leather Healthy Back Bag and Bionic gardening gloves were much admired (and stroked!) and everyone loved the handmade double handled mugs. There was also a lot of interest in our new range of products for people living with dementia including the Mind Dice.
I also took the opportunity to showcase some of the work from our student design competition, Designing for the Future with the University of Brighton.
It was good to see other exhibitors promoting the healthy ageing message too. The Lions Clubs “message in a bottle” scheme struck me as a simple and effective way to ensure that important medical information was to hand in an emergency.
A great morning all round.
For more information about the work of the Community Network, go to http://www.community-network.org/
Posted: May 21st, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health | 1 Comment »
Demographic changes and pressure on public finances are leading to radical changes in the statutory provision of assistive technology and mobility and disability equipment. Simple aids for daily living – such as walking sticks, mobility aids – 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.
As the supply of mobility products and assistive aids moves from local authority provision to the private sector, the question has been raised as to how to build trust and ensure the quality of these products.
Four models seem to be emerging :
1. “Trip- Advisor” style consumer-led rating system such as that proposed by consultants, Years Ahead
2. Certification system such as Age UK’s Engage Accreditation system
3. Online communities such as the popular Enabled by Design which is “a social business and community of people who are passionate about Design for All” who share advice and swop product information.
4. New kinds of trade associations such as the soon-to-be launched peer-approved Kandu Group which has been set up “to promote an ethical, moral and friendly way to do business in the care and mobility sectors and out of the belief that the care and mobility industries are in need of a change in focus, from profit to people.”
It is interesting to see the market building in its own safeguards in this way – there seems to be a recognition that these sorts of products are too personal and mean too much to people to allow the sort of unscrupulous traders identified by the OFT free reign.
Posted: May 20th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Inclusive design | No Comments »
One of the great things about writing this blog is being contacted by design students eager to share their latest work and innovative ideas to improve the lives of older people.
One such student is Fiona Harperwho is studying BSc (hons) Product Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee.
Fiona was inspired to focus on older people because “I started researching how the changes in demographics will start to change the way we care for our elders, particularly in the community and how the strain on resources and costs will mean that our government will have to make plans to provide additional care for those living at home”.
“Reassure“ aims to create a new way of communicating with more vulnerable members of the family who are living independently, allowing carers to feel reassured about their wellbeing in a subtle and non-intrusive way.
“Reassure”is a pair of porcelain electronic milk cartons. One carton is placed in the older person’s fridge and the other in a prominent position in the family or carer’s home. The devices are activated when the older person opens the fridge door which triggers the family’s carton to light a particular colour eg 1st fridge opening red, 2nd fridge opening blue and so on. The ambient colour change allows families to be reassured that their older relative is active and mobile throughout the day.
I particularly like this design because although it is a “telecare” product, it is simple, familiar and non-intrusive. Milk bottles have always been a way of subtly checking on a neighbour’s wellbeing. In the days when milk was routinely delivered to the door, milk still outside the front door at midday would signal to the neighbours that there was a potential problem. “Reassure” brings this concept bang up to date.
You can see Fiona Harper’s work (which has earned her a first class degree) at the DJCAD degree show from 16th – 27th May and at New Designers in London 4th – 7th July.
Posted: May 16th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Fashion, Miscellaneous | 1 Comment »
Valetta vintage style shoes by Hotter
As some of you may know, I have for some time been compiling a list of stylish but comfortable shoe brands (for current list, CLICK HERE) – a combination that seems increasingly elusive the older you get.
To further this research, yesterday I ventured for the first time into Hotter shoes in Chichester. When I first mentioned Hotter, their shoes were only available online but they have since opened a number of shops. And not before time, it seems. The first impression I got as I crossed the threshhold was that of a scrum of ladies of a certain age stocking up on boxfuls of Hotter shoes.
The shoes themselves seem to have been divided into two sorts – the more traditional, “comfort” shoes which a quick glance at my mother confirmed were not for me and another more modern range including heels. And the latter were very attractive. And moreover, gloriously comfortable.
Hotter shoes are not cheap (around the £60 mark) but do look very well made with really nice leathers.
So, well worth a look. (And if anyone from Hotter is reading this, I would like a pair of Valetta shoes in black, please..!!)
For more information about Hotter and to see the range, go to http://www.hottershoes.com/
Posted: May 15th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton | Comments Off
Delighted to hear that Harry Trimble, the first winner of our Designing for the Future competition in conjunction with the University of Brighton, has just become one of the Designers in Residence at the Design Museum in London.
Harry’s winning design for the Designing for the Future competition resulted from studying an older couple and their young twins. Harry’s interactive playmat encouraged more regular physical activity and play between parents and their children.
Well done, Harry!
Posted: May 14th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health, Inclusive design, New products! | No Comments »
With around 750,000 people in the UK having dementia – a number which is set to double in the next thirty years – more and more of us are being affected by this heartbreaking condition. Often it falls to families to try and help and one of the biggest challenges they face is how to maintain meaningful communication with their loved one.
These innovative new products are here to help.
Pictures to Share and Mind Dice offer a way for the person with dementia to interact with their families and carers in a meaningful and enjoyable way. They can be used by families at home and also in care homes and are versatile and attractive tools to help families make the most of their time together.
Pictures to Share are beautiful, non stigmatising illustrated books for people with dementia and their carers to share together.
As the creators of the Pictures to Share books explain : ” For those with a family member in the mid to late stages of dementia, the problem of maintaining meaningful communication can be one of the biggest challenges they face.
Many family members find the Pictures to Share books prove to be a great help in prompting a range of different conversations. They can also provide those with dementia living at home or in care with an enjoyable way to pass the time and an effective way of interacting with different carers and family members.
“I bought the books for my father who has dementia. Even though we have only had the books for a few days, they have already proved their worth!
My mother has found that the carers enjoy using them, and they really help the respite volunteers to break the ice. My father enjoys the pictures very much – we all do!”
For more information and to buy Pictures to Share – In the Garden, CLICK HERE
Mind Dice also aims to help people with dementia communicate with their carers. Prompts written on a 12 sided dice, enable the person to tap into their remaining memories provoking stories and responses that can be enjoyed by family, carers and friends.
Mind Dice has been designed and produced by John Sprange through his direct experience of caring for his father who had Alzheimers. John explains :”My father had a rich store of memories. ..When he died, aged 95, mixed with my grief was a sense of loss for my access to his personal connection to all those years he lived through. His eyes were in effect my personal witness to almost a whole century, and through this I had become an expert on what he knew.
In his later days, despite not recalling what happened 5 minutes before, he was able to recollect memories from long ago. Frequently he brought to mind events that placed him where he was happiest and at the height of his powers. Any repetition was often mitigated by the nuanced differences which emerged with the stories. They certainly showed his true sense of himself. I experimented with the dice, which carried, names of people, place and themes. He would sit rolling it in his hands, reading the prompts and saying. ‘This is my life’ with a sense of surprise.”
For more information and to buy the Mind Dice, CLICK HERE
These two new products join our popular Many Happy Returns 1940s reminiscence cards designed by Sarah Reed as a result of fifteen years’ voluntary work with the charity Contact the Elderly and her mother’s experience with dementia over ten years
Many Happy Returns 1940s is a lovely box of 24 carefully researched reminiscence cards designed to get old and young talking together about how life used to be, helping them to celebrate their personal and family stories. The cards offer a range of everyday subjects with large images, historical information and conversational prompts – from cleaning the step to playing conkers, from evacuation to rationing, from playing in the streets to that very first kiss…
For more information and to buy Many Happy Returns 1940s, CLICK HERE
Posted: May 4th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Inclusive design | No Comments »
This week was Naidex National, the UK’s largest disability, homecare and rehabilitation event. I went on the look-out for innovative and attractively designed products for older people.
Here are seven of the best:
I am a great fan of the IHUS/instant annex concept and it was great to see a mock up of an IHUS building at Naidex. The IHUS was being used as a showcase for independent living products and whilst an excellent idea in principle, the presentation was rather shambolic – such a shame when standout products such as a smart Design Matters kitchen and HEWI bathroom fittings (about which more later) had been used.
Sleek, aspirational, high end and effortlessly functional, the award winning HEWI bathroom range was for me the star of this year’s show. HEWI’s guiding principle is universal product form – avoiding stigmatisation through inclusive design. Instead of ugly white plastic grab rails, HEWI use sleek, chrome support rails and make sure that all other surfaces (towel rails, shower rails) are secure enough to hold onto. Feel-good bathrooms for people of every age.
Adam Thomas of Design Matters is the country’s leading designer for accessible, innovative and high quality kitchens which include features such as height adjustable counter-tops and hobs, dishwasher and fridge drawers and easy reach cupboards.
As well as the large manufacturers, it was also good to see a number of innovative, smaller businesses bringing new designs to the market.
Such + Such Design
The Such + Such Design team were showcasing some delightful new products which were beautifully designed and attractively packaged. These included the DUO handle which clips onto everyday mugs and glasses and Bridgit, a useful clip “which solves the problem of what to do with your walking stick when you are not using it”.
Flo is the innovative and sculptural walking and standing stick developed by Ilsa Parry in conjunction with Philippe Starck which is causing quite a stir. What was great to see was how enthusiastic and passionate Ilsa is about her product and making a difference to the lives of older people – we definitely need more designers like her!
Safesip is a re-useable drinks cover created by Melissa Edmunds after her father was admitted to hospital and Melissa realised that a solution needed to be found which would make life easier for those who struggled to sit up when they needed a drink.
Veliac electric tricycles
And finally, for sheer joie de vivre, I loved the Veliac electric tricycles – I definitely want one of those!
Posted: May 2nd, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Grandparents | No Comments »
Gransnet the social networking site for Britain’s 14 million grandparents is one today.
Launched in May 2011, the site was described by the Telegraph as “a new dawn in grey power.”
Gransnet’s forums cover everything from politics to sex, childhood games to difficult daughters-in-law. “We have recipes, product reviews and tips on everything from good grannying to great reads… and we feature regular webchats with politicians and experts, authors and slebs.”
Online forums for older people have hitherto been notoriously difficult to establish and maintain. However, spearheaded by Geraldine Bedell, I get the impression that Gransnet is steadily and surely embedding itself as one of the go-to sites for older women.
My interaction with Gransnet has largely been via Twitter where the Gransnet team manage to be consistently entertaining, informative and often very funny. My Gransnet highlights of last year included #grannygate and #bakingweek (when the Gransnet team baked and ate all week with great enthusiasm). And who can forget the lube reviews…!
So, happy birthday Gransnet and all the best for the coming year!