This fall prevention guide is a self-help, step-by-step guide that helps the elderly to identify risks within their own living environment. Then, the guide gives advice on how to adapt or change their environment to prevent falls.
Most falls among the elderly happen indoors due to tripping, when they lose their balance or when they transition from one position to another. Furthermore, the elderly are often unaware of precautions they could take to prevent falls, and/or are embarrassed to ask their healthcare professionals for help.
This idea hopes to:
- Raise awareness as to how one can prevent falls;
- Motivate changes in behaviours or habits;
- Help the elderly to overcome the fear of falling; and
- Free up the time of caregivers.
More than that, this idea hopes to give the elderly autonomy, empowering them to take care of themselves so that they can stay independent for longer and maintain their health and wellbeing.
Persona: Fred is a 70 year old retired industrial welder. He is the father of two adult daughters and lives alone in a third floor apartment. Fred leads a healthy lifestyle, but has noticed a loss of mobility due to ageing. He hopes to take precautionary measures so that he can live independently for as long as possible. Here is his story:
*Depending on the abilities of the older adult, they might opt for a digital guide instead of a physical one.
Thus, the process looks something like this:
However, the use of the guide fits into a larger context that involves many stakeholders:
The role and incentive(s) of stakeholders:
SCALING AND POTENTIAL IMPACT
In order for the guide to be successful, I think it would be useful to launch it in a simple form, iterating as feedback is received:
Eventually, the guide could be developed to also address entry areas, service areas, communal areas (e.g. in a retirement village), and could even be given to service providers in neighbourhoods where many older adults live (so that they can make their facilities more friendly and appropriate for use). The guide could also evolve to address other aspects related to preventing falls, for example diet and eating habits, exercise, disabilities, etc.
ACCESSIBILITY AND FEASIBILITY
For this idea to work, it is vital that the product is positioned at the right point in the market. From talking to older adults, I realised that not many of them are aware that fall prevention guidelines exist, so the chances of them going out in search for it are slim. There is also a lot of stigma around falling which may prevent older adults to look for solutions. It is for these reasons that I think it would be best to target healthcare providers and caregivers as potential points for distribution, as older adults trust these individuals, and these individuals are better able to identify older adults in need of the guide.
I have been developing the guide in a way as to reduce costs as far as possible, by for example choosing standard page sizes, existing solutions (that are easily repeated), and by incorporating low cost distribution options (e.g. post or digital platform).
Bettina Fliegel posted some research regarding Checklists and other tools, which is very much related to my proposal, and also speaks to how my idea will fit into the market. What makes my guide different is the fact that:
- It gives older adults the 'why'. This is empowering as it helps older adults to understand why they need to make these interventions and how it could help them personally. Also, from my experience, helping people to understand helps them to remember things for longer periods of time, which can help older adults to develop new habits in their homes. The guide also allows for return.
- My idea gives older adults advice on how to install interventions in the correct way so that it can be most useful to them (thanks Kate Rushton).
- The guide is requested by healthcare professionals and caregivers, and delivered directly to older adults who implement the fall prevention strategies independently (and not by their caregivers). Thus the guide gives the elderly autonomy while also freeing up the time of caregivers.
- The guide incorporates local service providers, vendors and other necessary contact details that older adults will need in order to implement the fall prevention strategies.
- The guide can be added to by older adults through personal experience and passed on to their friends.
a. Prototype from the Ideation phase
I took inspiration from Samsung’s Tocco Lite phone, which is packaged within the user manual. The manual is composed of two books with cut-outs in which the phone, SIM card and battery is placed. As a step-by-step manual, this design is targeted for an older audience, and it allows for return (if users should forget certain details around the phone’s use).
This design was reinterpreted to help the elderly identify risks within their own environment(s) and adapt it accordingly. Categorised room-by-room, this guide is easy to navigate by means of images and due to its organisation. However, upon reflection, I realised that:
- It is unnecessary to have the viewing window on the page as you look over the page while identifying various elements;
- Even with clear arrows, it is easy to lose your place on the page when you have to look up and then down at the page again;
- There is no space or option to write down your answer so that you can remember where the problem areas are;
- The chart does not indicate why the elements required are important or necessary, which reduces conviction to apply changes.
In addition to these insights, I also got some useful feedback from the OpenIDEO community, which I have incorporated in my design guidelines below. Thanks guys!
b. Layout and organisation iterations
Designing for seniors require special attention to layout and how information is organised on the page. Using Designing for Seniors, I developed 5 different possible layouts that are all A5 in format (easy and comfortable to hold in one hand), and use colour coding by room (for easy navigation).
Option 1: Grid layout
Option 2: Row layout
Option 3: Hidden details layout
*This layout hides the description, which they need to read after completing the activity. This is because it will be better for users to digest more detailed information at their leisure, without having to stand upright.
Option 4: Detailed descriptions layout
*This layout enables me to add more detailed descriptions e.g. how to install interventions (@Kate Rushton). As the pages will be flipped over, users will only see the right-hand page during the activity, and can peruse the left-hand page after the activity.
Option 5: Horizontal detailed descriptions layout
*This layout is essentially the same as Option 4, but it is held in a horizontal position.
OpenIDEO members! I would like to know: Which one do you like best, and why? Also, I'm open to suggestions. Please complete this survey. Thank you very much!
The feedback has really been useful to me. It is good to know that the designs are easy to read and understand, and I plan to incorporate the tips and advice given by the community. However, I think I could improve on the feedback I get in my next iteration by better explaining how the guide will be used. The intention is to have users first go around their home answering yes or no to the questions in the guide. Once they are finished, they can make themselves comfortable and read the descriptions of the guide. This enables them to make notes and/or a shopping list, and gain awareness of fall prevention strategies. For this reason my personal preference is the Hidden details layout as it guides users to first read the questions, and then the descriptions.
Here is an example of what a page of the guide could look like with a simplified description:
c. Prototype testing with older adults
I prepared a user test which incorporated a prototype guide (see image directly above) for the bathroom, and a variety of design options to choose from (*See attachment FallPreventionGuideUserTest). I wanted to find out whether this idea is attractive to older adults (will they find it useful), how successfully the prototype is used, where there is space for improvement, which options they prefer, and to extract ideas further ideas from my test subjects.
- All test subjects thought the guide was a good idea (yay! ;-);
- They found the design simple and easy to understand (most of them preferred the row layout);
- An introduction of how to use the guide is definitely necessary;
- The guide can be passed on to the next user, but a reference can be kept by each user;
- The 'description' of each element really needs to describe why an element is helpful in a very clear and straightforward way (a bit more information might actually be better than too little);
- There are other options in terms of product placement to consider e.g. occupational therapists, Age Concern UK, and the Royal Society of Accidents (they are in the UK, but I'll look for equivalents in the US);
- Enabling older adults to add notes/tips to the guide from their own experience is something that they will not only enjoy, but will also make the guide more helpful and collaborative;
- It would definitely be appreciated to have resources as part of the guide.
The refinement phase has led to loads of insights regarding the design, content and placement of the fall prevention guide. However, it still needs more work to develop a comprehensive working prototype. Overall, I've received positive feedback about the idea and its feasibility/usefulness, which is very motivational. I really hope that I can develop this idea into a real product!