Organisation Within the Kitchen Environment

Discussion in 'Researchers, students and professionals' started by EAHancock, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. EAHancock

    EAHancock Registered User

    Jan 9, 2015
    5
    Hi All.

    I am currently an undergraduate product design student with a view to go into Disability Design once i have graduated.
    I am currently taking part in a project that is a home organisation project that i have based around the kitchen environment. When caring for a person with dementia i understand that it is a progressive disease and this can be difficult for the person with dementia as they slowly become less able to remember how to do things. An exmaple i found of this was that people with dementia slowly forget to turn ovens off. Therefore this can obviously become a safety hazzard.

    My question is really that as a person caring with someone with dementia are there any problems that you face when looking specifically at a kitchen environment that if solved may be able to make your life easier or the person with dementia's life easier.

    Kindest Regards
     
  2. sistermillicent

    sistermillicent Registered User

    Jan 30, 2009
    2,951
    An electric kettle that would not be damaged by being put on the hob.
    A cooker that could have its setting locked discreetly by someone so that the person with dementia could not keep altering the temperatures (mum used to turn the oven up and down constantly when dad was cooking for her, often turned it off without him knowing.)
    glass or maybe perspex fronted cupboards so that you can see what is in them - mum forgot where the cups were kept quite early on and this was very distressing for her
    Is there such a thing as a self sanitising dish cloth?
     
  3. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,310
    Female
    South coast
    How about hobs that switch themselves off if there is nothing on them?
    It would be nice if you could get something that could sense if something is burning and switch off the appropriate oven/hob/grill.
    Sharp knives can be a worry too.
     
  4. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    6,839
    Suffolk
    Sistermillicent , I keep some mugs on an open shelf. He still doesn't know where they are ( beside and slightly above the kettle!). He hasn't been able to do anything in the house, except wipe a few dishes ( and he doesn't know where they are kept, obviously). However, see through doors would help some, I am sure.
     
  5. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    5,287
    Cotswolds
    A sink with some some of anti-bacterial flush?

    Something to easily get the grime and stains off cups?

    Something to set a small oven automatically?

    Something to remind people to eat or drink!!!!

    That said, it's really hard to replace people in care situations, I think.....maybe the above might just help a bit....
     
  6. EAHancock

    EAHancock Registered User

    Jan 9, 2015
    5
    Thanks everyone!

    Your responses are really appreciated! I am currently looking at the use of sharpe knives and seeing about alternatives to these, and also with regards to the oven situation I am looking at how something can be added to the generic oven to help with this issue.

    I understand it is very difficult to compare the quality of a carer to something that isn't even designed yet however I want to try and improve the quality of life for the person with dementia and hopefully in turn help make the carers job slightly easier.
     
  7. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    2,856
    England
    #7 Katrine, Jan 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015
    The best things we did when we replaced MIL's kitchen were:

    Move gas meter into a cupboard outside so she would stop turning the gas tap off
    New fuse board, relocated to airing cupboard where we could get at fuses (it used to be at ceiling level in the kitchen)
    Replace gas cooker with electric oven and hob
    Glazed doors on all wall units
    Pull out units and drawers at base level - no bending down or kneeling on the floor
    Slimline dishwasher (for us, not her)
    Plug socket for fridge freezer behind it on the wall so she couldn't see it
    Cordless kettle so she would be unable to fill it from the tap while still plugged in.

    She still set fire to pans, and put plastic bags of shopping on the hot hob, where they would melt.
    She turned the oven off at the wall.
    She washed the toaster regularly, then tripped the fuse every morning because there was water on the elements.
    She boiled soup in the kettle. She broke several kettles by switching them on when they were empty.
    She tried to dismantle the microwave by prising off the internal panels with a screwdriver.
    She unplugged her radio, then snapped off the aerial in an attempt to make it work.
    She began making toast in the microwave by repeatedly drying it until it was crisp enough. The bread often caught fire.
    She began storing all her vegetables in the freezer. Have you ever seen someone try to cut up a frozen potato with a blunt kitchen knife?
    She flooded the floor by wrenching at the door of the washing machine. She would switch it off at the wall then say it was broken, because the wash cycle would not finish.

    I could go on. There are ways of making life a little easier or safer for a short while, but it's still a race against time as skills are lost. Gadgets are the antithesis of what the elderly person themself wants.

    In their heads they are back in the days of the whistling kettle, the gas ring, twintub washer and mangle, penny in the meter, or even the open fire for making toast. What would be really clever would be safe retro gadgets, not the kind that people buy to look cute in a posh kitchen, but simple, well-made products with intelligent computer chips that monitor usage and guide users in correct sequencing. I think you'd get a Nobel Prize if you could design a range of those.

    I do have a suggestion. I mentioned the dishwasher. This enabled MIL's family members to gather dirty cups, glasses, plates, cutlery and pots and shove them in for a good hot wash without her protesting too much. It only took a couple of minutes to load, while she was distracted going to the loo for example. It was fine if someone took her out for a couple of hours while it was running. It would have been fantastic if the whole wash cycle only took 30 minutes. This would fit in with a normal social visit. Why do they take so long to run?

    Same with washing machines. MIL could have coped with 30 minutes. The lengthy cycle just doesn't work for someone with poor short-term memory. She would tell us it had been running all day and was broken. It wasn't. Her sense of time was broken. :(
     
  8. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    5,287
    Cotswolds
    Oh Katrine, I so identify with your post (I hope you don't mind me cutting it). I have learned the hard way that mum's quality of life is sadly not improved by the various gadgets I've tried. And as she's in sheltered housing, she uses (or doesn't use!) a communal laundry.

    I think your idea of things to help the carer be helpful, is really good. I am now wondering whether I can fit a small dishwasher anywhere in mum's flat.....or would this count as another of my gadgets?! :confused: :cool:
     
  9. Izzy

    Izzy Volunteer Moderator

    Aug 31, 2003
    58,702
    Female
    Dundee
  10. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    5,287
    Cotswolds
  11. Izzy

    Izzy Volunteer Moderator

    Aug 31, 2003
    58,702
    Female
    Dundee
    You can visit the Iris Murdoch centre and I've meant to do that for ages but have never got round to it.

    http://dementia.stir.ac.uk/about-dsdc/iris-murdoch-building
     
  12. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    5,287
    Cotswolds
    This looks really interesting....and set in what looks to be a lovely, peaceful setting. Hope you get to visit it Izzy.....it would be a long way for me to come, unfortunately!
     
  13. Izzy

    Izzy Volunteer Moderator

    Aug 31, 2003
    58,702
    Female
    Dundee
    It is a beautiful setting. I used to go to meetings in the university there when I was a headteacher.
     
  14. sistermillicent

    sistermillicent Registered User

    Jan 30, 2009
    2,951
    I was thinking of before mum's dementia was the huge problem it became about six years ago, when she could still do things in the kitchen but couldn't remember where things were. I expect you are right, she would still have struggled to find things, but she continued to help up until about 2 years ago, just stirring things really.

    The kitchen was such a big part of mums life and it was devastating for her when we had to take over a bit, if she could have felt she retained some control in there (without being in danger or damaging anything) it would have been great
     
  15. Scullerina

    Scullerina Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    3
    I think this thread is very interesting and matches with lots of thoughts I've had about my mother who has vascular dementia.

    I can see three clear areas emerging: 1) Things that help the person with dementia continue to use the kitchen. 2) Things which make the kitchen safer for that person and 3) Things which make the kitchen easier for a carer. All three could have huge benefits.

    In general when it comes to the person with dementia continuing to partake in as normal a life as possible for as long as possible, I find all forms of modern gadgetry utterly frustrating and useless. Why does something as simple as turning a TV on to one of the main channels need to be so complicated? Why does a telephone have to have infinite options on it's keypad? Why does modern design seek to hide the obvious on/off switch or require a degree in computer science to adjust a temperature control? As previously mentioned, a nice line in properly retro products that work simply and effectively is just crying out to be designed and made. Also I could only find one watch that showed the days of the week and even that was too big but with the information on the screen too small for my mother to see.

    With regards to things that have specifically helped my mother, clearing fridge doors of magnets and other confusing information, keeping everything she needs out and clear black and white labelling of the main things she can do - tea, kettle, fridge etc - makes a huge difference. It's not design per se but signage has given her back some confidence to do things she was struggling with before.

    Good luck with the project. I hope others see the wisdom of producing effective products for this 'market'.
     

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