Designability's Bud Sensory Cushion image

A new sensory cushion, designed to address feedback of sensory products being “too childlike,” has been launched by charity Designability after collaborating with unpaid carers, care staff and healthcare professionals.

The Bud Sensory Cushion is aimed at people in the later stages of dementia who can experience restlessness and agitation, providing what the organisation describes as a contemporary sensory product that can that can be touched and played with to provide comfort, relaxation, and a simple, repetitive activity.

Discussing the key drivers behind the new product, Fiona Cromwell, Marketing Officer for Designability, told AT Today: “There was a real lack of age-appropriate products on the market. We wanted something that wouldn’t look out of place in someone’s home, which is why we went for a contemporary cushion design which would look discreet when folded back together.”

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Designability's Bud Sensory Cushion image

Created to provide “occupation without a challenge” for people with dementia when interaction in activities may be intermittent, the Bud cushion is based off the findings of research carried out by Designability into sensory products.

According to Designability, research revealed those in the later stages of dementia interact with sensory products in numerous ways, including running fingers along and feeling the edges of clothing and furniture, holding hands and objects, picking and pulling items such as clothing, as well as stroking and arranging.

Alongside featuring these elements into the new cushion’s design, the Bud also includes the opportunity to personalise the product for each user, adding objects in the cushion to be discovered to help the person reminiscence, such as meaningful photographs and objects such as jewellery.

Describing an individual’s response to the cushion, an activity co-ordinator from a nursing home said: “When you unfold it like this, it is – oh gosh, look at that – she loves the photographs on it. The photos link to stories that she will talk about – the colour of the outfit, details of that day. She likes to handle the necklace as she’s talking. She likes to straighten the petals. The cushion has been useful for reminiscence. She puts everything back.”

Designability's Bud Sensory Cushion image

Having designed the product, Designability has partnered with Find Memory Care, an established manufacturer and retailer of memory care products, to bring the product to the market.

Founded in 1968 by inventor Bevan Horstmann and consultant surgeon Kenneth Lloyd-Williams, Designability is a charity consisting of designers, therapists and engineers creating new assistive technology solutions to help improve people’s lives.

The organisation is also currently developing a new wheelchair baby carrier and is gathering input from wheelchair users to help shape the design.

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