Research calls for improvement to assistive tech to improve carer and patient lives
New research from charities Carers UK and Designability has found that more attractive, effective and affordable products would better support carers and help their patients.
The two charities came together to highlight the need for new products to help individuals eat and drink and reduce carers’ workloads.
An online survey of 265 carers and in-depth focus groups found that unpaid carers are managing physical issues such as difficulty with swallowing, risks of choking and also monitoring whether someone is drinking enough.
Carers also described the challenges of motivating the person they care for to eat and drink enough by providing appealing and appetising food.
However, one of the key points from the findings was that some carers find products which help people stay nourished and hydrated are stigmatising, expensive or impractical.
Therefore, the research calls for innovative designs to aid carers and their patients, from helping with shopping and preparing food, to products that can monitor eating and drinking.
Madeleine Starr MBE, Director of Innovation at Carers UK, commented: “For carers, ensuring their loved ones are eating and drinking well is a key concern and this research shows the many challenges they face.
“As more of us provide support for relatives and friends, often juggling caring responsibilities with work or parenting younger children we need products that fit with the new realities of our busy lives.
“This research lays down a challenge to designers and technologists to explore practical solutions to help those with diverse care needs to enjoy a healthy diet.”
In addition, from the research, 40 percent of carers indicated they were the sole providers of care, which further emphasises the need for affordable and helpful assistive devices.
Jess Ridgers, Product Designer at Designability, added: “Supporting another person to eat and drink the right things is difficult and complex so it’s understandably a key worry for carers.
“This research shows that there are many opportunities for inclusive design to inform the development of more and better products to help carers support others to eat and drink well.
“We hope that our findings will be the start of a bigger conversation leading to innovative solutions.”
Carers UK is a charity led by carers, for carers, with an ethos of making life better for carers by offering expert advice, information and support.
Designability is a national charity that aims to transform the lives of disabled people and those living with a long-term health condition by creating “life-changing” assistive products.