Final Year Product Design Project on Dementia

Discussion in 'Researchers, students and professionals' started by Holly1997, Oct 25, 2019.

  1. Holly1997

    Holly1997 Registered User

    Oct 6, 2019
    14
    Hi everyone,

    I am currently focusing my final year project on Dementia as due to having personal experience within my family, I would love to design a product to help Dementia patients and their relatives/carers in some way.

    I have done a large amount of research and narrowed my topic down to designing a product that will ease anxiety and agitation in Dementia patients once they first move into a care home. From conducting primary research and from experiences that I have seen personally, the stress that a Dementia sufferer experiences from changing their living environment can lead to agitation and restless hands, which causes a large amount of stress and discomfort for the patient and also their family and carers.

    I am aiming to design a kit focusing on sensory stimulation, that will potentially have different fidget tools inside to aid in calming, with the hope of easing their restless hands and stress, and therefore hopefully preventing further health problems such as insomnia.

    If anyone has any feedback or opinions on this idea, I would be very grateful to hear what you have to say.
    All replies will be kept anonymous and will only be used as inspiration for my project!

    Thank you!
    Holly
     
  2. nae sporran

    nae sporran Volunteer Host

    Oct 29, 2014
    6,106
    Male
    Bristol
    My partner already has two fiddle muffs, which are large woollen tubes with various plastic and wool additions to play with if she gets bored. She never uses those parts, but the wool keeps her hands warm in the car in winter. Sorry Holly, it is hard to see how you can improve on such a simple thing, but I wish you luck.
     
  3. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    8,093
    Yorkshire
  4. Helly68

    Helly68 Registered User

    Mar 12, 2018
    484
    You probably already know that a lot of these things, it depends very much on the dementia stage as to how useful a product might be to a PWD.
    Mummy hasn't, so far shown any interest in a fiddle muff (similar to what you are describing) where I sewed quite a few personal objects onto a knitted square. However, when you talk about personalisation, not quite the same thing but a while ago, when she had a bit more capacity, she loved a cushion we had printed with a picture of her grandchildren. Critically, she knew who they were and it got a lot of attention form staff and others, which she enjoyed.
    Nature is a good theme and Mummy often notices bright colours even though her perception isn't good
     
  5. Holly1997

    Holly1997 Registered User

    Oct 6, 2019
    14
    Hi all, thank you so much for your responses so far!

    I am trying to narrow down my project whilst keeping your advice in mind.

    I have am now thinking of aiming to design a product focusing on sensory stimulation. I know that there are many DIY and branded fidget muffs and fidget cushions out there in the market, however from conducting some primary research I have found that some Dementia patients find them quite childish and do not make full use of their potential. I would love to be able to change this by designing an improved sensory product, potentially a sensory flower or a sensory nature pad. This will be able to incorporate a love for nature and the outdoors, with sensory stimulation using touch, sight and hearing. I am thinking of petals/wings that can open up and be personalised with the user's personal items, potentially things that will remind them of their families/home. Materials used will all be soft fabrics to provide comfort and there could be different fidget/fiddle elements on it to remind the user of nature.

    I would like this to be different to be almost a re-design of the original style of fidget muffs/cushions, using bright colours with a nature theme. I love the idea of the PWD being able to personalise it, with photos of family etc.

    Would be very grateful if any of you have some more opinions on this.

    Thank you!
    Holly
     
  6. nae sporran

    nae sporran Volunteer Host

    Oct 29, 2014
    6,106
    Male
    Bristol
    I was sceptical, but Helly's idea of adding family pictures is a good one.
     
  7. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    16,156
    Toronto, Canada
    @Holly1997, have you considered taking prototypes to day care centres and nursing homes in your area? That would give you real life responses that I think would prove more useful.
     
  8. Louise7

    Louise7 Registered User

    Mar 25, 2016
    1,360
    This sounds really similar to the ‘Bud’ sensory cushion which is shaped like a flower. You open up the petals and it contains different textures and can be personalised with items and photos. Is this the sort of thing you mean, or is your design going to be different?

    https://designability.org.uk/projects/products/bud-sensory-cushion/
     
  9. Holly1997

    Holly1997 Registered User

    Oct 6, 2019
    14
    Thank you for this :) Will definitely look into doing that, it is a great idea!
     
  10. Holly1997

    Holly1997 Registered User

    Oct 6, 2019
    14
    Thanks for your reply :)

    Haven't seen this one before, however i'm aiming to make my project fairly different to that. As that one is already on the market, I may try and steer it away from the flower and come up with another shape for mine :)
     
  11. Holly1997

    Holly1997 Registered User

    Oct 6, 2019
    14
    Thank you for your reply :) Yes, I have researched existing products currently on the market. I would like to be able to design something that will be inspired by and in some way re-design the traditional dementia products that are currently on sale :)
     
  12. Holly1997

    Holly1997 Registered User

    Oct 6, 2019
    14
    Thank you so much, this is all very helpful info! Will definitely be taking this into consideration when designing!
     
  13. Holly1997

    Holly1997 Registered User

    Oct 6, 2019
    14
    Thank you :)
     
  14. DesperateofDevon

    DesperateofDevon Registered User

    Jul 7, 2019
    1,965
    Music is soothing
     
  15. Holly1997

    Holly1997 Registered User

    Oct 6, 2019
    14
    #15 Holly1997, Nov 19, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
    Hi all,

    Thank you for all your help and assistance so far through my research.

    From doing further research and developed I have decided to design a sensory book for Dementia patients who have just moved into a care home. This will mainly focus on nature.

    Current quiet/sensory items on the market for Dementia, [including homemade items such as Etsy products], seem to be very brightly coloured and childish, which from doing primary and secondary research I have seen that this can make the person with Dementia not want to use the product.

    The book (made entirely from fabric, velvet, felt, soft materials etc) is intended to give the user reminiscence of flipping through a photo book. It will have much more of a mature look but still be suitable for them. Each double spread will have a sensory scene on the right page and a plastic slot for the family/carers to add a photo in that could possibly remind them of a family time at a place similar to the sensory scene, aiding memory. The sensory page will aid in preventing anxiety, restless hands and agitation.

    The family can change the photos/personal messages potentially each time they visit/every couple of weeks to allow an element of surprise for their relative when they are not with them.

    I was playing with the idea of adding an element in which could prevent warmth and more relaxation for the user. I looked into lavender wheat bags which you can take out of the product, put in the microwave to warm them up and then re-insert.

    I also thought of having one page at the back of the book that would allow the user to create their own scene. This page would have a big velcro square (the soft side) and potentially in activity sessions the person with dementia could create their own elements to stick onto their page with velcro and change this up whenever they would like. They could add their own photos/personal items if they fancied.

    Opinions on this new idea would be very much appreciated!

    Thank you so much!
    Holly
     
  16. Holly1997

    Holly1997 Registered User

    Oct 6, 2019
    14
    From doing further research and developed I have decided to design a sensory book for Dementia patients who have just moved into a care home. This will mainly focus on nature.

    Current quiet/sensory items on the market for Dementia, [including homemade items such as Etsy products], seem to be very brightly coloured and childish, which from doing primary and secondary research I have seen that this can make the person with Dementia not want to use the product.

    The book (made entirely from fabric, velvet, felt etc) is intended to give the user reminiscence of flipping through a photo book. It will have much more of a mature look but still be suitable for them. Each double spread will have a sensory scene on the right page and a plastic slot for the family/carers to add a photo in that could possibly remind them of a family time at a place similar to the sensory scene, aiding memory. The sensory page will aid in preventing anxiety, restless hands and agitation.

    The family can change the photos/personal messages potentially each time they visit/every couple of weeks to allow an element of surprise for their relative when they are not with them.

    I was playing with the idea of adding an element in which could prevent warmth and more relaxation for the user. I looked into lavender wheat bags which you can take out of the product, put in the microwave to warm them up and then re-insert.

    I also thought of having one page at the back of the book that would allow the user to create their own scene. This page would have a big velcro square (the soft side) and potentially in activity sessions the person with dementia could create their own elements to stick onto their page with velcro and change this up whenever they would like. They could add their own photos/personal items if they fancied.

    Opinions on this new idea would be very much appreciated!

    Thank you so much!
    Holly
     
  17. Jaded'n'faded

    Jaded'n'faded Registered User

    Jan 23, 2019
    531
    Female
    High Peak
    Hi Holly,

    I think it's great that you are looking into products that might help people with dementia.

    However, I am struggling with your idea. I honestly don't think there is any point in putting so much effort into making a 'better version' of a product that is already available in various forms. There also seems to be an assumption that all people with dementia like such things - which I very much doubt. Everyone is different.

    Also, people who do like to 'fiddle' with things, often end up dismantling them or pulling them apart. For this reason, home-made fiddle blankets, workbenches, boxes of bits, etc. seem a better choice to me as they are easily fixed/replaced. I know your product has parts that can be changed (photos, etc) but I am wondering how much time a person would actually spend using/looking at your sensory book.

    Of course, I can only speak of my experience with my own mother. She would definitely look at anything I offered her but nothing held her interest and she disliked photos because she didn't know who the people were and thought they were other peoples families. If I had offered her your book, she would have asked what it was for and when told - I'm afraid - would reject it. But that's just my mum... :rolleyes:

    In the end, I just don't think there would be any market for an 'off the peg' product of this sort. Sorry I can't be more positive. People with dementia need people around them, not things. (Just my opinion...)
     
  18. kindred

    kindred Registered User

    Apr 8, 2018
    2,285
    This sounds a lovely idea but maybe not for this group. I volunteer as an activity coordinator in two nursing homes, one for moderate and one for severe dementia.
    This is too complicated for that context. Also, from my experience, things do not get continually used, photos updated etc. It just does not happen, things are too difficult, distracting, get lost etc etc

    People with dementia would also struggle to make their own scene.

    I do not know how the following could be adapted but I know it is one of my most successful activities: A beautiful book. A big scrapbook with a large choice of loose pictures from various sources, cards, magazines adverts etc Residents choose which picture they want today, or ghis ime, and then I stick them in and I write alongside what the resident said about them, Then I leave it on the table and others borrow it and if I can hear more comments, I write them in and date and name them as well

    This does not require so much effort but it encourages judgement, reasoning, memories and appreciation.
    warmest, Kindred.
     
  19. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,901
    Female
    I agree with JadednFaded re the lack of focus. My mother likes to leaf through magazines and newspapers but she cannot focus on them for long, nothing holds her interest. Although I love the idea of a fabric book, as Kindred says it's likely to get lost or ruined, and wouldn't be appreciated at all by my mother.

    My mother's main interest is animals. She loves looking at photos of them in magazines, and she also always has a cuddly toy in her hands, to stroke and cuddle. I think she does use the toy for comfort and to calm anxiety, in the way you're talking about Holly. However she can no longer remember her own pets, so showing her photos of them is meaningless. Any pet will do! She once had a fiddle muff (obviously 'borrowed' from someonelse, I didn't buy it) but she wasn't very interested in it, she prefers cuddly toys, it would never occur to her that anything was 'childish'.

    Unfortunately I think some dementia aids are made with the relatives/carers in mind - it's what we think they will like/find useful. Years ago when she was still at home I bought my mother a dementia clock/calendar because she was always asking the carer what time/day it was. Waste of money, she didn't use it and still asked the carer!

    But I do think your idea could be popular - because after all it isn't the PWDs who buy these things, it's the relatives. And I think some relatives may well like this idea.
     
  20. Holly1997

    Holly1997 Registered User

    Oct 6, 2019
    14
    Hi all,

    Thanks for your feedback so far. I have finally made the final product and would love some feedback on it from some of you if possible.

    I have designed the ForgetMeNot Sensory Book.

    This sensory book is made up of different scenes relating to nature, and these are made entirely from soft materials such as cotton, felt and velvet, to provide comfort and ease restless hands for the user. It is designed to be similar to a photo album as the relative can put in photos into the picture slots that potentially remind the user of a time that could relate to the nature scene next to it. I have seen with current homemade quiet books and sensory products and from doing primary research, they have a slight childish feel to them, which can make the user reject the product. I have tried to use fairly mature colour schemes throughout whilst still using some bright colours to overcome this.

    There is a blank white page at the back which can allow activity coordinators in care homes to encourage residents to make their own small scenes/pictures up out of material/felt and stick them on using velcro, giving them the chance to make a new scene whenever they want to.

    On the back cover, there is a small pocket holding a small lavender wheat pack. This can be heated by the carer in the microwave for one minute, and this can provide warmth and relaxation (due to the lavender scent) for the user whilst using the book. The book can provide a comforting network between the relatives, the carer and the resident as everyone plays a small part in it's use.

    I made the final outcome entirely by myself using hand sewing and machine sewing. Photos are attached.

    Any feedback that you may have on the final product would be wonderful!
     

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