Bethan Griffiths and Alex Johnson are both students at the National Star College in Cheltenham, a specialist further education college for people with disabilities and acquired brain injuries, and took part in one of the Design Together, Live Better workshops. This is what they thought of the experience…
“Maximising independence was the big theme behind the Design Together, Live Better workshops. My independence is really important to me. Although I’ve got a disability (cerebral palsy), in my head I’m not disabled. So I want to be able to do what everyone else can do.
“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to take part in the workshops. I have quite a lot of my own ideas that could help me and others. I like art and design and I wanted to be able to share my ideas with others.
“At the workshop in Cheltenham it was nice to hear other people like you because the things that came up I wouldn’t have thought of. It didn’t really apply to me. It opened up my own ideas. It was a really good experience meeting others in a similar place to me.
“It was also quite strange because so many of the ideas seemed so simple – they were things that just haven’t been invented yet. And they haven’t been invented yet, because people with different health conditions hadn’t had the chance to share their ideas.
“We liked the bidet idea that came out of the workshop – it was a really clever idea. Kia from Designability came to college to show us the prototype. I could see that lots of people would find it very useful.
“It was great to be able to share my ideas at the workshop… I hope there will be more opportunities to keep contributing like this.”
“Being able to live independently is really important to me. I think that a young disabled person should be encouraged to take an active role in society, fulfil their ambitions and life choices and part of that is to live as independently as possible.
“That’s why I volunteered to take part in the workshop. I want to make sure there are enough accessible things on the market that disabled people can access and encourage independence in our environment in adult life.
“I enjoyed the workshop, sitting around the table and sharing ideas with others. The three prototypes we ended up with are really good – when can we try them?! I’m interested in the portable bidet as it would really make a difference to me.
“Thanks so much for the opportunity – it was brilliant!”
Design Together, Live Better: the lowdown
Citizens (patients, carers, family members and friends) want to be involved in the co-design and co-production of new innovative technologies and solutions in healthcare, sharing their ideas to help people live more independently with their health conditions.
We brought people together online and at a series of public workshops. Ideas for new product concepts were discussed and developed with potential users, and then refined and brought to life in real time by our design partners, Designability (Bath Institute of Medical Engineering), through rapid concept sketching and illustration.
Ten concepts were selected for further exploration by Designability, three of which were taken onto design and prototype development: a seatbelt buckle and harness design that can be easily fastened with one hand; a ‘companion’ trolley which offers a more personalised approach than existing walker trolleys in the home; and a portable bidet that can be used in public conveniences.