Teaming up with Carers UK to explore nutritional needs

Jess speaks with a carer at a focus group

We recently teamed-up with Carers UK to run a series of focus groups with carers to explore needs and opportunities around nutrition and hydration for the people they care for.

Finding out about the challenges people face when caring for someone

Hazel, User Interface Engineer and Jess, Industrial Designer, joined forces with Madeleine, Director of Business Development for Carers UK and Maria, Research and Development Manager for Carers UK, to run two focus groups with 16 carers at the Carers UK offices in London.

Carers UK ran the first half of the session, where they went around the group and asked people to tell us a bit more about themselves, and followed this up with a questionnaire around some of the specific problems each carer faced in caring for people/a person in their life.

Designability then took the reins and carried out various activities, including ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’, where we asked attendees to share their thoughts on existing products or services; from those that they couldn’t live without, to those that haven’t worked so well and to those that are downright ‘ugly’. We also asked everyone to take us through a typical day for them:

  • What are the key challenges they face?
  • What opportunities arise at particular points in the day?

The importance of engaging with carers as well as the cared for

This piece of work highlighted the value of engaging all people involved in someone’s life when designing, not just the user themselves. We were overwhelmed by the responses, enthusiasm and openness of all of the people who took part. It opened our eyes to some of the challenges people are facing as carers, many of which are not just related to the physical difficulties, but also to the emotional consequences of being less able to eat or drink independently.

A report on this piece of work will follow shortly but we have some exciting ideas that we hope to explore further… watch this space.