Product Design for Elderly

by agedcare101 on 17/2/2016

Product and service design for older people

As the years have passed, how many times have you muttered expletives about the design of some ordinary, everyday item that has no regard for the older user?  How on earth are you meant to be able to read that label or open that package? Why do things need to have SO much packaging anyway? Why can’t remote controls have bigger buttons and fewer of them?

Why is it so hard to go back to where you were on a website after you have clicked on a link?  Do online banking time-out functions need to be so damned short? Whatever happened to instruction manuals? Why can’t you get grab rails and bathroom supports that look good?  Do nail scissors have to have such small finger holes?

Under a proposal that COTA South Australia has pitched to the State Government, South Australia could become the nation’s testing ground for improved aged care products and services, designed to better meet the needs of the over 60s.

A Living Laboratory

The “Living Laboratories” proposal – one of 18 proposals COTA has put to the SA State government to improve the health, housing and employment options for older people – recommends providing seed funding for an initiative that would see South Australia become the hub for a new centre of excellence to identify, design and test new products and services for national and international markets.  All in partnership with older people.

The story made the front page of the Adelaide Advertiser

The report says everyday products and services often fail to meet the specific needs of older people, despite their significant buying power.

“They continually encounter fundamental errors in assumptions about them as a market and many would be happy to help design products and services which more appropriately suit their needs,” it says.

COTA SA has recommended that seed funding be provided for “a partnership to design and establish a specialised ageing co-design environment, capable of supporting the identification, iteration and testing of services and products for Australian and international markets.”

The partnership would involve a group of older people who are partners in the research and innovation process, not just subjects.  A number of universities have already expressed interest in the project. While the concept is yet to be fully developed, it is envisaged that it would include a strong educational element for older people and testimonials from people who have tested the products.

What new products or services would you like to see developed?  What products or services would you like to see changed to better meet the needs?

You can read the full list of recommendations proposed by COTA SA to the SA state government on this link.