Friday, 23 January 2015

My experience with current “Panic Alarms” and the problems encountered.

An issue which is very personal to me is the problem with medical stigma, designing products that are exclusively designed to suit one type of person is something that I find quite frustrating. My mum has recently had to use a “Panic alarm” system after leaving hospital. It was a long term option for her and I noticed quite a few problems with it from the word go, which is what originally inspired me to take on this project.

Firstly any medical product with the word “panic” involved isn't the best way of making a patient feel at ease, my mum would often place the product behind sofas, cabinets and corners of rooms to try and disguise it. Her personal alarm which she would wear around her neck would be under her top and on many occasions she wouldn’t even wear it as she felt embarrassed. 

When receiving the alarm, the first thing we noticed was “Alarm for the elderly"! well… As a women of 35 my mum wasn’t the most pleased being given this title. This type of stigma is making patients who aren’t elderly feel they aren’t “normal” for needing one of these products. With this in mind, this wasn’t my main problem, my main issue was the fact it reminds patients of being ill. This isn’t how it should be, surely we need medical products that make you feel safe, rather than having a constant reminder of the illness they have.

How I addressed this issue & my concept.

My mum’s alarm had a huge red button which she pressed to indicate an emergency, which  I wanted to change in my product. As a designer, I wanted to create something comforting, organic, pleasant within a family environment, easy to access, not obstructive but also more visually appealing to the younger generation.

I focused on nature to try to embrace a calming aesthetic to inject into the product. My “Pebble hub” is there to protect patients, not fill them with worry. The name was inspired from the fact the pebbles are said to be classed as a “comforting” stone and are packed with a protective power, obviously this could be a complete myth but it’s a beautiful way to visualise this new product and give it some personal meaning.

Why is this beneficial?

Firstly, everybody is unique and inclusive design is an approach that should be taken with this type of product to avoid patients feeling abnormal. Instead of pressing a red button for panic, for my concept will allow you to press a pebble button for comfort. The hub is a closed pebble until activated so at first, it’s not obviously an alarm system. 

The hub will be connected via a home phone line and once the button has been activated the speaker will lift allowing you to talk directly to a nurse. Once connected with the nurse the “pebble” with flash blue to indicate you can now interact with the nurse. Below are some illustrations showing how my product would be used.

To view Shelby's website please click here.

1 comment:

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