Last week Janne Hansen, Head of Product Marketing at Stannah Stairlifts, judged the Helen Hamlyn Design Awards which are organised by the Royal College of Art (RCA), sponsoring the Inclusive Design Award. This award looks for design projects that address the needs of older people within the community or improve the quality of life for people of all ages and abilities.
We’ve been working with the Helen Hamlyn Centre for nearly six years and our partnership with them has not only sparked new product opportunities but also how we take our products through our design process and engage with our customers to ensure we have fully captured their needs.
The deserving winner of the inclusive design category was Begego, a watch that connects to existing devices and helps children to be independent in managing Type 1 diabetes. Past winners include projects such as the Carer’s Companion, which provide proactive care for isolated elderly people.
Stannah is proud to be involved with the Awards because product innovation and making life easier and more fulfilling for people lies at the heart of our business and cultural philosophy. We all know that our mobility can decline as we get older, with the things we took for granted sometimes becoming harder and maintaining a sense of independence within and outside the home can be more of a challenge.
Yet at the same time today’s over 65s are not like previous generations at this stage of their life. They are leading far more active and independent lives than ever before and there is a real need for companies to think more creatively about how they design their products with this demographic in mind.
One of our customers’ greatest frustrations is the way society tends to generalise how they talk about older people. The reality is that in 2017 they consist of a vast and varied group spanning from active to frail and from 60-90+. You certainly can no longer group them all together. People currently in their late 60s and early 70s – the so-called “baby boomer” generation – can differ greatly in their attitudes and abilities to those in their 80s and 90s.
These differences are evident in the way they relate to technology, their attitude as consumers and in their tastes and preferences in the home, all of which must be considered when designing products for those in their senior years. This has led some researchers at the Future Laboratory to talk about the emergence of a “flat age” society.
Whatever your perspective, by 2050 it is estimated that over 65s will comprise 17% of the world’s population, compared to 8.5% today. All businesses must take account of this if they want to succeed, and designing their products with the needs of older people in mind will help them thrive and survive in the coming years.