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, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Inclusive design | Comments Off
We have been following the progress of Julie Robinson and the Move It or Lose It! team since we introduced into our range the first fitness DVD back in 2011.
Easy to follow, from the comfort of a chair, the exercises are set to toe-tapping classical music and increase strength, flexibility and mobility. Endorsed by the Centre for Healthy Active Ageing Research and with no lycra in sight, the Move It or Lose It! DVD aims to keep your body flexible, well co-ordinated and improve the strength of core muscles required to maintain good balance and prevent falls.
Since 2011 hundreds of people of all ages, abilities and with many conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and heart disease have improved their confidence and returned to weight bearing activities as a result of Move It or Lose It!. And Julie has gone on to win a number of awards and also now has a regular column in Yours magazine.
Last week, Move It or Lose It! clinched yet another award – Ideal World’s Best Fitness Newcomer Award. Fantastic news and well deserved for a team committed to improving the wellbeing, fitness and mobility of older people.
We are currently offering a FREE exercise band and FREE Delivery on every DVD. CLICK HERE for more details
Posted: September 30th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Designing for the Future Competition - Collyer's, Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Inclusive design | Comments Off
It’s one of those frustrating things – pulling a plug out of an electrical socket – particularly where you have difficulty gripping. Here are four possible solutions.
First up is the ‘PULG’, an innovative product especially useful to people who struggle with limited dexterity in their fingers. Once attached to a plug, ‘PULG’ can then be slightly squeezed using finger and thumb to remove the plug from a socket with ease – See more at: http://www.bespoken.me/forum/topics/pulg-great-solution-to-make-removing-plugs-easy#sthash.1d5YTy1l.dpuf
Next we have the “Plugster” which is another simple device which fits over an existing plug by simple wrapping, making it easier to pull out. The Plugster has the added advantage of space to label the appliance so that you don’t unplug the fridge rather than the radio. More information here : http://www.iantheinventor.co.uk/page4.htm
The multi- award winning sleek ”Folding Plug” by Min-Kyu Choi was designed more with portability in mind but it does feature a useful handle for helping extract the plug form the socket. (The commercial product which followed, the Mu, has lost the handle sadly https://www.themu.co.uk/ ).
Push out plug socket by Glen Crombie 2011
Finally, we have the “Ejector Plug” which was designed by Glenn Crombie, one of our Designing for the Future competition winners. Glenn’s winning product is designed to eject a standard plug from a socket at the touch of a button – deceptively simple but very ingenious! Although initially designed to meet the needs of people with arthritis and similar gripping disabilities, this product has universal appeal and because it is based on a standard UK plug socket fitting, it is easily installed anywhere it is needed.
One problem, four potential solutions. What do you think?
Posted: September 24th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Retirement | No Comments »
I have come across a couple of projects recently which aim to use food to connect people.
Casserole Club started life as part of the Design Council’s Independence Matters programme and has since gone from strength to strength.
Casserole Club is a project that connects people who “like to cook and are happy to share an extra portion of a delicious home cooked meal, with older neighbours living close by who could really benefit from a hot cooked meal”.
Like a local, community-led take-away, Casserole Club members serve up tasty, home-cooked food to their neighbours, getting more people eating and cooking fresh meals while strengthening local neighbourhood relationships. The service is flexible - there is no requirement to share meals regularly and meals do not have to be eaten together. Casserole explains : “What happens when you go round to deliver a meal is totally up to you and your Diner. You may just deliver food and have a chat at the door, they might ask you in. Do whatever feels right for you. Some cooks and diners may want to get to know each other a little better first, others may well be up for a cuppa and a chat!”
The new kid on the block and still fund raising is NANA, a comfort food and craft café staffed by older women. NANA describe their ethos as follows : “We hate the thought that just because you retire, you’re expected to sit at home waiting for Deal or No Deal to start. Although there are activities provided for over 65′s, they don’t suit everyone, especially those who still feel like they’re 40 and are keen to get stuck in to something that benefits their community.
So on the one hand, you have incredibly talented, passionate and enthusiastic older ladies stuck in doors, looking for something to do. On the other, you have a whole community of people, looking for tasty food at a reasonable price. So why not bring these two groups together?
We want to make a space where everyone is welcome – regardless of age, income or whether you have a screaming child on your arm. NANA sits at the heart of the community, serving up all the nostalgic treats from your childhood. Think dippy eggs and soldiers, homemade soup, ‘proper’ sandwiches and freshly baked cakes”.
Both projects are deceptively simple, easy to engage with and equally charming. To be successful Casserole and NANA need to be embraced by the communities in which they operate and both seem to be on track for doing just that.
For more details about Casserole Club, visit http://www.casseroleclub.com/ and to find out more about NANA go to http://www.wearenana.com/
Posted: September 23rd, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health, Inclusive design | Comments Off
In all the talk about digital inclusion, it is perhaps surprising to discover that it was a grandmother from Gateshead who pioneered online shopping from her living room way back in the early 1980s.
Michael Aldrich with Videotex online shopping system in 1980s
As part of a council initiative to help the elderly, Mrs Jane Snowball, 72, sat down in an armchair in her Gateshead home in May 1984, picked up a television remote control and used it to order the groceries from her local Tesco.
“What we effectively did was to take a domestic TV in a home and turn it into a computer terminal,” says Michael Aldrich, the man behind the technology for the system. “That was the big leap.”
It was years before the world wide web came into being. And not until the early 1990s that the major retailers set up their online stores.
Looking at the footage of the Gateshead experiment, what is most striking is the ease with which Mrs Snowball used the technology. The interface was very simple. Mrs Snowball never saw a computer – she was given a standard television with the chip set and a remote control with an additional button on it that said “phone”. Pressing the button brought up a directory of retailers on the TV screen in the format of a standard teletext page. She would choose a retailer and then the goods. It took just 15 minutes to teach her how to use the system. Michael Aldrich explains: ”It worked very well… and she could just turn off the computer and go back to watching Coronation Street.”
Nearly 30 years later, perhaps it is time to reinvent the domestic television as the means to engage older people in technology. It is familiar,inclusive, found in every living room and potentially the key to making sure all older people are truly connected to the world around them.
The story of Mrs Snowball featured in BBC Business editor Robert Peston’s series about shopping in Britain since World War II, “Robert Peston Goes Shopping”. For more details, CLICK HERE Image courtesy of the Michael Aldrich Archive
Posted: September 23rd, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Inclusive design | Comments Off
Last week, Google released a rather mysterious press release launching Calico, a new company that will focus on “health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases”. Art Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, will be Chief Executive Officer.
Google’s co-founder, Larry Page explained this new move as follow: “..You’re probably thinking wow! That’s a lot different from what Google does today. And you’re right. But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives. So don’t be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses. And please remember that new investments like this are very small by comparison to our core business.
Art and I are excited about tackling aging and illness. These issues affect us all—from the decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age, to life-threatening diseases that exact a terrible physical and emotional toll on individuals and families. And while this is clearly a longer-term bet, we believe we can make good progress within reasonable timescales with the right goals and the right people.
Our press release has a few more details though it’s still very early days so there’s not much more to share yet. Of course when Art has something more substantial to communicate (and that will likely take time), he’ll provide an update”
Interesting. Particularly interesting to see ageing going mainstream. What is not clear is why Google is being so mysterious – why issue a press release with so little detail? I guess we will all have to wait and see whether this is a huge idea which will go stratospheric or a cautious toe in the water in one of the most challenging new markets of today.
Posted: July 15th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health, Retirement | No Comments »
I recently came across an interesting new project called Vintage Communities which aims to encourage people, particularly older people, to share their skills and talents to benefit their local communities. I invited Marc Mordey who runs the company alongside Deborah Klee, to tell us more. This is what he said.
What’s it all about?
The basic premise and core value of Vintage Communities is that everyone within any given community – irrespective of age – will have knowledge, talents, skills and enthusiasms and that, given the chance, these can be shared within the community, be they gifts of the heart, gifts of the head or gifts of the hands.
Our initial task is to identify the people we define as being ‘community connectors’, i.e. those people who are those that others will naturally go to – the “I know a person who” type of individual – who will have knowledge of, and links to, problem solvers and enablers. We want to try and get beyond “the usual suspects” and reach out to and capitalise upon the assets and ideas of those within communities whose voice is least often heard.
We have a methodology for community engagement, which follows the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) model. This involves identifying the community connectors and working with them so that they make contact with individuals and groups or associations. They will talk to people to find out what it is that people care about changing in their community and what skills or gifts they can contribute. They will put neighbours in touch with each other where they can see mutual benefits can be achieved.
What we aim to achieve
Our purpose is to enable and support older people to transform their communities as community builders.
We believe that the fabric of state provided services is altering irrevocably and that there will be more and more need for local people to find local solutions, to draw upon their own collective resources and to discover community connections and a sense of living somewhere where the people who care about, and possibly for you, are your friends and neighbours. We recognise the important role that statutory, community and voluntary organisations provide but believe that there are some things best provided for by the state, some things that are best provided in partnership with citizens and other things that are best provided by citizens themselves.
We aim to motivate, inspire and help prepare people within local communities to decide what things are most important to them, to discuss how they might improve things, to recognise what skills and talents are available from within their neighbourhood, be that individuals, small groups of people or organisations (both voluntary and statutory) and to work out how they can get the best out of, and for the benefit of, local people.
The Balham story
Vintage Communities was commissioned by the London Borough of Wandsworth to work with people who live and work in the Bedford ward of Balham, to make it a better place to live for all ages. Vintage Communities’ plan was to work with local people for 6 – 9 months, enabling them to establish self-sustaining initiatives that make use of what is already available in the area to achieve their goals. Work started at the end of September..
A core group of nine (including two councillors) have met on a regular basis. Other neighbours have joined the meetings at different times.
Two events have taken place to publicise the work of the group and to encourage others to get involved; one in March and another in June. As a result of these events there are more than 50 people on the circulation list who are interested in volunteering and helping.
The group have named themselves Neighbourhood network. They have an e-mail account, a face book page and are supported by www.streetlife.com with the offer of a page for keeping the neighbourhood connected.
What’s happening now?
The following initiatives are now well underway:
A computer skills class (for older people) run in conjunction with Balham Library, Streetlife.com and our volunteers
An oral history project – with local schools participating, and led by group of volunteers.
A social group at Wimborne House (sheltered housing scheme on Bedford Hill).
Vintage Communities’ involvement will gradually become more arms length. A mentoring support role will continue beyond this date. We hope that the core group will assist other neighbourhoods following a similar journey by sharing their experience and expertise.
What is so heartening about being involved in this work is that there appears to be a genuine appetite for rekindling the sense of community that people refer to – often rather wistfully – as something of a ‘bygone age’.
Far from having disappeared completely, our experience is that there are people waiting to be contacted, people with all sorts of gifts to share with one another and that the ‘currency of caring for one another’ is in far less a parlous state than the media and indeed, ourselves, might like to think. ABCD is one way of opening doors – literally as well as metaphorically – into a community that can really begin to help itself.
For more information, visit www.vintagecommunities.co.uk
Posted: June 12th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Health | Comments Off
To mark Carers Week this week, Attends got in touch to let us know what products are now available to help manage the often debilitating affects of incontinence which can strike at any stage of life.
Incontinence can affect both men and women, especially those at a more senior time of life. Not only can incontinence cause irritation and hygiene problems it can also affect your day to day life. IF you let it! Fortunately, there are a number of products available to help limit the effects incontinence has on your lifestyle.
Modern products mean you can still go for a walk, play golf, play tennis, catch up with friends…Of course, we always recommend getting in touch with your doctor as soon as you notice any bladder or bowel weakness as they will be able to offer treatment and advice and explain why this could be happening. Although these products are incredibly helpful and can really improve quality of life, there is no substitute for correct medical attention.
There are many companies who offer a great selection of incontinence products such as Attends, Tena and Lil. The following are products from Attends which can make a huge difference to the life of someone suffering from the effects of incontinence
1. Moisturiser- Often skin irritation is a side effect of incontinence . Moisturiser can help prevent against any rashes and dry skin, meaning you can get about without excessive discomfort.
2. Disposable underwear- With cotton like outer materials and efficient inner layers, disposable underwear can absorb almost twenty times its own weight… so you can enjoy that coffee after all!
3. Absorbent pads- These have the same effect as disposable underwear but are designed for a lighter flow. Allowing you to wear that dress you wanted to!
4. Incontinence Slips – These are sometimes known as adult nappies and are designed to manage heavy or severe incontinence and are available in different sizes to ensure you can get a secure fit.
5. Spray- Opposed to using a perfume or deodorant, why not use a non-irritating product. Perfect for when you’re out and about.
6. Wipes- Also incredibly handy when you’re out and about. Allowing you to be clean and fresh, so you can enjoy your day.
7. Disposable bags- Disposable bags are a must, similar to the ones you find at swimming pools for wet swimwear.
8. Skin cleanser- A good skin cleanser is important;. You should look for a specialised moisturising cleanser which is formulated to clean without scrubbing.
9. Pad & Underwear combination- Some companies offer a combination of both a disposable pad liner and a washable brief. Providing that extra bit of insurance.
It can take time to find the right products for you and some trial and error may be needed before you find what you are most comfortable with. To help you find the right product Attends have created this useful Product Selection Guide which is worth having a look at.
Posted: May 22nd, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Health, Retirement | No Comments »
Peter Thornton talks to Dermatuff user, Flo Lees
In the latest of his guest blogs, Peter Thornton, former chairman of Thorntons chocolates, writes about how he had the idea for his new business, Dermatuff and some of the challenges along the way.
During 1998 whilst living still in Wensley in Derbyshire, I started to commute on a weekly basis to the South-West. Some years earlier I had bought a biscuit business which had originally been in Kingsbridge in the South Hams, was now based in Exeter and was doing seriously badly.
Having had a very successful big business background in a very well established and very well known confectionery company, I had imagined that remotely turning around a small loss-making speciality biscuit business would be easy. I had never intended to manage it myself having assumed in a big business style that I would be able to put in a manager and then sit back in Derbyshire watching the profits roll in. It was not like this at all.
Actually what happened was that I sat back in Derbyshire and watched my own finance gradually pour down a black hole in the West Country. Eventually in the middle of 1998 I decided that I would just have to do something about it personally and that with my experience and entrepreneurial ability I would soon be able to solve it.
Trying to turn around a business which has extreme cash shortage and no particular differential advantage is an almost impossible situation. It is even more difficult when you have come from a business like Thorntons which was very profitable and never short of money. One could make serious mistakes with very little negative impact on the business because of its inherent strength.
By 2003 after five years of commuting 550 miles every weekend we decided to sell up in Derbyshire and move to the South West. After trying for another two years, we couldn’t save the business and so put it into administration in 2005. It was immensely costly but an intense relief to be out of it.
When I left Thorntons I thought I knew everything about running business and that most important factor human behaviour but I learnt a great deal more by having been in that small business. In the latter six months of the businesses existence I thought that I had saved it by finding a new investor. In those highly stressful circumstances it is too easy to team up with the wrong person who makes extensive promises of high investment. The promises were not fulfilled, but he did introduce a finance director, Nick Pitts who proved to be the foil that I needed.
In October 2005 Julia and I and our children took a one week’s holiday in Brittany in a beautiful old château called Le Manoir de Hilguy. Whilst walking in the local town of Quimper with my family I walked into a low bollard and the inevitable happened, I acquired a huge skin tear on my leg. We walked to the pharmacist across the road and bought some plasters with which I attempted to strap my wound together. A few days later I was coming down the large staircase in the château when I slipped on the steep steps. My arm hit the handrail and my undamaged leg hit the steps. Two more skin tears. This time I spent three hours in the local hospital being stitched and bandaged up.
Not only did I suffer the pain and the physical damage but also the personal distress caused by appearing to be a doddering old fool to my younger wife and family.
I decided then and there that I had to do something about this serious problem and by the time we got home a few days later the obvious answer was already in my mind. It was such a simple solution that I could hardly believe that a suitable product was not already on the market. All I needed was some sort of protective wear for my arms and my legs which would prevent these impacts doing me any harm. Immediately after our return I spent an hour on the Internet trying to find some existing product which matched my concept. The nearest I could get was protective clothing for use in glass factories.
The company was very helpful and agreed to send me the sleeves from a protective shirt. They were a very unattractive yellow colour but after wearing them for about three months with no further skin tears I decided that I had solved the problem.
By this time Nick Pitts and I were in business together, I was mostly responsible for product ideas, Nick, being an interim finance director primarily looked after administration and finance but also had ideas. One day when we were not getting anywhere I said to Nick “well there are these stockings that I’ve been developing”. From then on we moved further and further forward. It is interesting that when one hits upon a really good idea it can be exceptionally hard work but things do seem to fall into place.
For more information about Dermatuff, visit http://www.dermatuff.com/
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.