Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Posted: May 20th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Health, Inclusive design | No Comments »
ThyssenKrupp Encasa contacted us to tell us about their accessibility products which include stairlifts, platform lifts and home elevators. Two of the biggest gripes we hear about stairlifts in general is lack of transparency on pricing and ugly design. Here ThyssenKrupp Encasa explain how they approach both cost and design.
Pricing in the stairlift industry is somewhat of an unknown as the product is not part of everyday life for the majority of the UK population. It carries the stigma of a medical product which symbolises a lack of independence and old age. Ultimately it is a purchase out of need and not aspiration.
However times are changing. We are seeing a shift in the stairlift market for many different reasons. The ageing population is living longer which is causing their everyday life to become a challenge, especially mobility. One of the biggest challenges people face is tackling the stairs, a daily task which is taken for granted by many. Within the UK there is a Government Facilities Grant scheme (DFG) supported through local authority social services which is designed to help people who may not be in a position to finance adaption’s to enhance their mobility. Given the recent times and Government austerity measures, the amount of funding is being reduced with signs indicating less funding will be available as the years progress. This will cause a major shift within the stairlift market as more and more people will have to finance the purchase themselves. This drives the need for prices to become more transparent with design, functionality and value for money becoming a major factor in making the right choice of product and supplier.
At ThyssenKrupp Encasa we design all of our stairlift products with our clients in mind. We recognise people invest significant time, money and love in their homes and the phrase ‘home is where your heart is’ rings true throughout our business when dealing with customers. It is our aim to help people stay in their own homes, avoid re-housing or permanent downstairs living by providing stylish, innovative, practical stairlift solutions. Our curved stairlift, the Flow 2 is arguably the best stairlift on the market. It holds patented technology and design with its unique ASL technology allowing people to change direction whilst travelling, this eliminates small narrow stairs where typically a stairlift would not fit. Each lift is bespoke to individual stairs and therefore offers a taylor made solution that meets the needs of the customer, and not a standard off the shelf product.
ThyssenKrupp Encasa encourages price transparency and when asked by customers we always provide guide prices which are realistic and not misleading to give customers false hope to accept a home visit. It is difficult to provide a set price for stairlifts as there are many different variables to take into account. Is it a straight or curved stairlift? Does it require a powered swivel or hinge track? All of these variables can only be answered by visiting the customer’s home to assess the stairs and surrounding areas but also to measure the client to ensure the lift will fit and transport the users safely up and down the stairs. Not only that, there is also a duty of care to other people who live or access the property to ensure their safety is not jeopardised as a result of installing a stairlift. All ThyssenKrupp Encasa surveyors are trained to identify all aspects of installing a stairlift and will only recommend a solution if it is right for the customer. We treat all of our customers as if they are a family member, therefore we ensure quality at all times.
In saying this, it is fair to assume that a new straight stairlift fully fitted should cost in the region of £1,200 for a basic model Depending on the options this figure could increase to around £1,600. For a new curved stairlift you should expect to pay in the region of £4,300 for a basic model, increasing up to £5,000+ for more complex and complicated requirements.
Posted: April 26th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Health, Life Stories, Retirement | No Comments »
Peter Thornton talks to Dermatuff user, Flo Lees
Formerly chairman of Thorntons, Peter Thornton was inspired by his own experiences to develop an innovative new skin protection product, Dermatuff which helps prevent skin tears. In the third of his guest posts, Peter recalls how he had the idea for Dermatuff and a particular sticky moment along the way.
I worked for 35 years in the family business, Thorntons, the confectioners. During that career I was really lucky because I could usually see the answers to problems without too much difficulty. Of course the ideas had to be refined as they came to me as I said in my last blog but generally the answers to almost anything would occur if I just let the problem lie in my mind. That business was a marvellous environment for innovation, it was very stable, in my day always made a good profit, always had lots of cash in the bank, made great products that one could be very proud of and had a social working environment which was second to none.
Having plenty of money around meant that mistakes could be made without it having a dramatic effect on the business, the start-up entrepreneur rarely has that benefit. Actually this is probably a very good thing because having plenty of cash around is a good background to getting things wrong. If you are very short of money then you have to think of every possible way to do what you want to do for no money or hardly any money. You also have to be wary as to what you do because a mistake can finish you off completely.
When I lived in Wensley near Matlock in Derbyshire I became quite familiar with the local Minor Injury Unit. My most memorable visit there had been one day when I was alone in our home some time after I had left Thorntons. I was wandering around the house when I noticed that my wife had left a box of Thornton’s toffee on top of the piano. Being always an addict I could not resist taking a piece. As I wear plates in my mouth holding various teeth which have been removed, I must be very careful when eating toffee. On this occasion the toffee stuck to my bottom plate which was immediately loosened by the chewing motion, pushing a wire hook which was on one end of the plate well into the inside of my cheek.
This was rather like a fish hook and could not be removed by any pulling strategy that I tried. I therefore decided that I would have to go to the Minor Injury Unit where I proceeded in my car with the bottom plate hanging out of my mouth and firmly hooked into my cheek on the inside.
Of course I had to give my details to the reception staff who were quite amused to see the state that I was in. They asked my name – Peter Thornton, what had caused this incident – I struggled to explain that I had been eating a piece of Thornton’s toffee whereupon broad smiles spread across their faces particularly when they realised that the business had been my career background.
Not long after that I had to go to the Minor Injury Unit again. I had a vintage Aston Martin which was parked in a large garage that I had. I was walking past it one day and inadvertently my leg knocked quite gently against the rear bumper. Imagine my surprise when I look down at my trousers and realised that they were completely soaked in blood. Rolling up my trouser leg I saw what appeared to be a horrific injury; a large flap of skin was hanging from my leg with blood pouring out of the wound.
They sewed it up for me and then I had to keep returning for re-dressing once per week for several weeks. This was the first of many incidents of this nature. Eventually I went to see my GP and said “what can I do about this?” “Nothing,” he said, “you’ll just have to be more careful”. “Isn’t there something that I can wear? Pills that I can take or something that I can rub in?”. To which he replied in the negative and told me that I had got thinning skin as a result of taking cortisone for many years.
This seemed to be a serious affliction; I began to lose my confidence and to be extremely wary about where I was and what I was doing. The trouble about that state of mind is that it seems to make one even more vulnerable.
At that stage it had not occurred to me that I might be able to find a solution to the problem, I had to suffer several more accidents before I put this problem firmly in my mind as needing a solution.
For more information about DERMATUff, visit www.Dermatuff.com.
Posted: April 22nd, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Health, Life Stories | No Comments »
Peter Thornton talks to Dermatuff user, Flo Lees
Formerly chairman of Thorntons, Peter Thornton was inspired by his own experiences to develop an innovative new skin protection product, Dermatuff which helps prevent skin tears. In the second of his guest posts (read the first one here) Peter considers the role of intuition, emotion and charm in becoming an entrepreneur.
Being highly intuitive is the first essential for an entrepreneur. In the last couple of years I have become convinced of the effectiveness of the empirical system of personality definition known as MBTI – Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Try it online for nothing, it’ll tell you how intuitive you are and what your other characteristics are.
The system has four preference pairs: Extrovert/Introvert, Intuition/Sensing, Thinking/Feeling and Judging/Perception. Abbreviated to: E/I, N/S, T/F, J/P. My profile is E(65%),N(88%),T(90%),J(64%). The ideal profile for an entrepreneur is said to be: E,N,T,P. Not quite perfect apparently and yes, I do think too much.
I think it’s really important for every individual to understand their own personality and I have been attempting to understand mine since I was a very young man. The trouble is that nobody ever tells you, at least not truthfully so, or on an informed basis. It was eventually MBTI that made my rational personality features clear to me. You get a comparison with the system; you know how you compare with other people.
Intuition is the most extraordinary gift, my theory is that somehow the brain amasses a huge database of information and when you put a problem into the brain it automatically retrieves appropriate information and produces a solution.
Not that all intuitive solutions are always correct, they quite often are not and have to be examined consciously. It is also sometimes the case that the intuitive solution is not so, it is just an emotional reaction to an emotional situation.
The emotional reaction has to be particularly carefully guarded against; I believe that most intuitive people, creative people, are also quite emotional people, if you suspect that the solution is an emotional one then leave it for a few days before doing anything about it. The emotional state gradually dies away so that it is usually gone within a couple of days.
British people have been much more open in the last 10 years or so about revealing their own emotional behaviour. I have been very open in my book ‘Thorntons, My Life in the Family Business’ about mine. It used to be that personal emotionality was totally hidden and suppressed; we tried to give an outward impression that all was calm and untroubled. This was a very bad thing because suppressed emotion has dangerous side effects on our health and well-being and impairs rational judgement. I have been very watchful of my own emotional behaviour since I started Dermatuff Ltd.
Just as our rational characteristics vary as measured by MBTI so do our emotional characteristics. Some people are extraordinarily stable and remain in the same balanced mood all the time. Other people including myself incline naturally towards bipolarism to a greater or lesser degree. I believe that this is due 50% to nature and 50% to nurture. The important thing as with our rational characteristics is to know ourselves and to know how to control these characteristics.
I am very fortunate to have learnt how to control bipolarism in my case: ‘cut off the peaks’ – never get too excited or depressed then things come much better into balance. It needs constant effort though because it is not natural behaviour. Decisions taken when on an emotional high or on an emotional low can have very dangerous consequences.
I was talking to a friend of mine recently who told me that her sister had been extraordinarily successful in business. I asked her what characteristic it was that made her so successful. She replied “well it’s not really that she is brilliantly intelligent or well educated, she is just extremely charming, I think that it is charm that matters more than anything don’t you?”
So remember ‘cut-off the peaks’, make the best of your extroversion and be charming, keep a quiet mind and don’t think too much so that your intuition can work and keep the balance between judging and perception.
To find out more about Dermatuff, visit www.dermatuff.com
Posted: April 10th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health | No Comments »
Peter Thornton talks to Dermatuff user, Flo Lees
I was introduced to Peter Thornton by Mat Hunter of the Design Council as a fellow entrepreneur interested in new products for our aging population. Formerly chairman of Thorntons, Peter was inspired by his own experiences to develop an innovative new skin protection product, Dermatuff which helps prevent skin tears. Here Peter considers the qualities he thinks are necessary to become an entrepreneur.
What qualities does an entrepreneur need? Highly intuitive, extrovert personality, charismatic, driven to succeed, supremely confident in own abilities, maturity of personality, need excitement, risk taker, prepared to work very long hours and at any time, very stable personal life. That’s the ideal; I have a few of them!
I’m writing this at the weekend, this is because when running a new not yet institutionally established business it’s impossible to take off blocks of time. Once a business is well-established then life becomes much easier, problems do not have to be immediately solved; In the early days of an entrepreneurial business then everything must be dealt with when it needs to be dealt with.
On the other hand time off is essential, the human brain does not like being forced to come up with immediate answers (at least mine does not); most of my best ideas come to me when I’m not thinking about the problem.
My new business constantly comes across new barriers, new difficulties and new crises. This is mostly a symptom in my case of trying to work with the NHS which takes the most incredible amount of insight to understand.
I go to sleep every night quite easily (sometimes helped to a great extent by listening to Radio 5 Live – I generally don’t notice what they’re talking about but the voices are soporific). I often wake up at 4 a.m. with the latest problem screaming for a solution, I get a cup of tea and sit there letting my mind drift. The solution to the problem is frequently revealed within my now calm mind.
The human body also has to relax; spending eight hours a day crouched in front of a computer screen is good for neither brain nor body. Getting into the beautiful outdoors for a half-hour walk with the dog, spending a day a week in the garden, playing golf, going sailing, relaxing outdoor activities are all part of refreshing mind and body for a better performance when you are working.
Spending time in the security provided by a loving family is also an essential. In my own very happy circumstances a few very good friends and the occasional uproarious party are generally sufficient!
To find out more about Dermatuff, visit www.dermatuff.com
Posted: April 8th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Health, Retirement | No Comments »
A new survey of people aged 50 and over conducted by Relate, the UK’s leading relationship support organisation, has shown, not unsurprisingly, that our personal relationships are a key factor in determining how happy our later years will be.
91% of respondents said that their relationship with their partner is very important to their happiness in retirement.
The poll, which was conducted by independent researchers Ipsos MORI, surveyed 1,390 people aged 50 and over across Great Britain. The findings show the importance of relationships in later life in both good and bad times, but that good health and financial security are just as, if not more, important for older people.
Last month Relate launched a campaign focusing on relationships in later life. Relate has partnered with Gransnet , the online community for grandparents, and is asking people who are approaching retirement or who are newly retired to consider how their relationships might need to adjust by taking a free online Relationship Checker.
Geraldine Bedell, Editor of Gransnet said, “Our members have vast experience of relationships, happy and not-so-happy, and are coming up with lots of ideas for sailing off into the sunset. All sorts of things can knock relationships off course, but with a little TLC, relationships can also spiral upwards again surprisingly quickly.”
One of the biggest impacts on relationships in later life is when one partner becomes carer for the other one. I wonder if when taking the relationship test there should be questions about each partner’s expectations of care in the event of poor health. Should partners, for instance, be covenanting with each other to keep themselves in good shape? Now that retirement may last for decades rather than the handful of years originally contemplated, health and relationships are more inextricably linked than ever before.
To take the relationship test, visit http://www.gransnet.com/being-a-gran/relationships/relationship-checker or www.retirementtogether.org.uk.
Posted: March 25th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Health, Inclusive design | No Comments »
Tablecloth by Rita Maldonado Branco
I recently met graphic designer Rita Maldonado Branco who is interested in the potential of design to help people with dementia. Here she describes how having grandparents with dementia informed her graduation project.
My graduation project developed last year as part of the MA Communication Design at Central Saint Martins looks at different ways in which communication design can add value to the context of Alzheimer’s disease. My two grandparents diagnosed with this disease were the main inspiration and motivation for this project.
On my mother’s side, my grandmother Rita from whom I got the name, used to be a dedicated housewife and the best cook in the family. She would always ask if we were hungry and, without waiting for an answer, she would prepare the most delicious food. Meanwhile, my grandfather Vasco (on my father’s side) was a pharmacist but also painter, ceramist, filmmaker and writer. I used to visit him and my grandmother often in their hometown, where everyday we would jump from the ceramics workshop to the pharmacy counter and then to the private cinema room in his house.
My grandmother Rita still asks if I am hungry but she doesn’t know what to do if I say I am. It is now our job to help her with the breakfast, while confused she asks where she is and, sometimes, who is that man seating next to her, to whom she is married for more than 60 years. My grandfather Vasco, before extremely active, is now passively sitting in that same corner of the couch, in his world that, even trying hard, is difficult to get in. He doesn’t remember his work — just the books he wrote because they have his name on the cover.
These and other facts made me start this project, in an attempt to understand what is this disease that slowly is stealing my grandparents, and eventually do something to help this situation.
Being a graphic designer, I believe that information design can play an important role in raising awareness and understanding about complex things. I started looking and questioning how information about dementia is provided, making visual what is usually just written.
Then, I decided to use the first-hand experience with my grandparents as part of my methodology, allowing a deeper insight into the object of study as I was already immersed in this context. I was interested in how people perceive and experience the disease, trying to find out their needs and ways in which I could address them. As my grandparents are already in a stage that is difficult to have a conversation with them, I had to adapt my methods to the situation. Including the rest of the family was a key point throughout the project. They contributed with their insights, needs, experiences, and feedback on the several experiments I was producing.
This led to a more expressive approach, by trying to imagine how would be like to have the disease. I produced a series of outcomes that represented the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease — as if graphic design was affected by the symptom. This exercise created empathy towards the condition and made me more confident to try some ideas with my grandparents.
Memory Card Game by Rita Maldonado Branco
Based on everyday challenges for my grandparents, I developed some simple tools to stimulate and facilitate interaction between them and the rest of the family and the carers. Although inspired and tested with my grandparents, these outcomes had several iterations and were improved to be accessible to others.
I first produced a memory card game to help my grandmother remembering the family members, as well as helping the carer to encourage conversation when we are not around.
Being aware that this wouldn’t work for my grandfather, I adapted the same idea to something that he would engage with. I observed that he still reads a lot despite the disease. So I asked the family members to write him letters that were compiled into a book, highlighting words that could possibly trigger memories.
Finally, as a former housewife my grandmother still wants to help out at home. But she doesn’t remember simple tasks such as laying the table. Therefore I created a tablecloth with the silhouettes of the cutlery and crockery to guide her in the task.
I believe that dealing and caring for people with dementia requires a lot of creativity. Being a complex condition that affects one’s identity in different ways, all the efforts are useful and needed. Not only in medicine and care provision, but also supporting families to use their memories and shared identity to better stimulate their relatives with dementia. I think that design can help here, providing tools for people to use the knowledge they have about the person with dementia.
In the case of my grandparents, these tools generated some positive results. My grandmother was interested enough in the cards to spend some time on her own going through them. The carer still uses these cards to help talking about the family members. My grandfather became addicted to the book, and was reading it several times a day. One day he commented to my grandmother ‘this book is the portrait of our lives’. The drawings in the tablecloth were understood and followed by my grandmother who was able to lay the table on her own.
Although very personal and small, this case study demonstrates that design has the potential to add value to the context of dementia and that further exploration and research on this area should be taken forward.
To know more, please visit the project’s website http://cargocollective.com/ritamaldonadobranco
Posted: March 20th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Fashion, Health, Inclusive design | Comments Off
Smockfrock from Liz & Ett
Fashion and disability are not two words which are necessarily seen together but I have come across a couple of new businesses lately which are trying to cross the divide.
The first is fashion label Xeni which was launched a year ago. Xeni 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.
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.
More recently I came across Liz & Ett, which is run by American entrepreneur Liz Emery who is passionate about clothes which “maintain dignity and style when facing health challenges”. Not always easy. However, Liz & Ett’s first design, the Smockfrock clothes protector in shocking pink and black floral, damask and even zebra prints is not only very practical but surprisingly gorgeous. I hope that Liz continues to develop the range and also starts exporting to the UK!
Great to see new ideas and designs in this much neglected area of fashion.
Posted: March 19th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Health, Housing | Comments Off
Moving in with Grandma blog
Multigenerational blog “Moving in with Grandma” was showcased last weekend at Transmedia 2013 in Winchester.
TransMedia 2013 incorporated the Digital Media student End of Year Show for the University of Winchester’s BA (Hons) Digital Media Design; BSc (Hons) Digital Media Development; and MA Digital Media Practice. The work on show spanned a wide range of new media from digital photography to video, websites, apps, games and animation.
“Moving in with Grandma” is a blog designed by student Caitlin Aldrich-Wincer which takes the form of emails between herself and her mother as they consider creating a multigenerational household.
Caitlin is currently running a competition on the blog asking people to describe what “home” means to them. The prize is a gorgeous doublehandled mug from The Future Perfect Company and a photobook of Caitlin’s photographs.
To visit the blog and enter the competition, visit http://movinginwithgrandma.wordpress.com/
Posted: March 12th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Housing, Offers and competitions | No Comments »
Moving in with Grandma blog
Our rapidly ageing population means that many families are having to reconsider how they live and care for each other. For the “sandwich generation” this means juggling the needs of their children with caring for elderly parents. More and more families are rejecting traditional care arrangements in favour of tailored multigenerational models which reflect the specific needs and aspirations of their particular family and its members.
Our family is no exception and my daughter Caitlin Aldrich-Wincer has started a blog recording our own adventures in multigenerational living at http://movinginwithgrandma.wordpress.com/
Contemplating such a move has made both Caitlin and I reassess what home means to us and we are really interested to find out what everyone else thinks. Let us know on the Moving in with Grandma blog and be in with the chance to win a gorgeous doublehandled mug from The Future Perfect Company and a photobook of Caitlin’s photographs from her series “Home”.
Posted: March 4th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Health, Housing, Inclusive design, Retirement | No Comments »
Generations Talking Together - Housing
At the end of January, I took part in one of a series of discussions organised by media agency, Forster and United For All Ages in News International’s boardroom examining intergenerational tension.
The debates were attended by 80 people from a wide variety of backgrounds from CEOs of major charities, to the Head of Economics at a trade union, to creative thinkers and academics, to corporate representatives from a major retailer, gym, insurance provider and Britain’s biggest house building company.
Over four sessions, the panels examined some of the issues around housing, health, work and technology. How much does intergenerational tension affect these areas and what solutions can be found to help to solve this?
I was invited to take part in the session about housing which was chaired by Rosie Bennet, social affairs correspondent from The Times. Panel members included Rama Gheerawo from the RCA and Antonia Bance from Shelter as well as representatives from Barratt Homes, Places for People and the Intergenerational Campaign (the latter being rather disappointingly reasonable after their controversial “house-hoarding” report of a couple of years ago).
Given the immensity of the topic and the diversity of interests represented, the session could only begin to touch on the challenges facing young and old such as the lack of affordable homes being built and the debate as to whether homes should be used to finance care in later life.
Several solutions were proferred such as reforming the private rented sector to give families more security; considering ways of developing lifetime leases to remove so called “inheritance hoarding” and allow flexibility in housing to match life changes; scaling up homeshare schemes and encouraging co-housing models of generations sharing together.
What was clear to me was that in addressing today’s challenges, seeking to pitch one generation against the other is at best inefficient and at worst divisive. The most exciting new models being trialled are intergenerational.
What also came out of the debate was the need to re-consider the aspiration to universal home ownership. If we are truly to meet the housing demand of both old and young, maybe like many of our European contemporaries, we need to stop relying on our homes as property investments .
For more information about the Generations Talking Together project and to find out how you can contribute to the debate, visit http://www.forster.co.uk/generations-talking-together/