11 December 2014

Redesigning Elder Care

Text: Jessica Sicking

Nine students on the Industrial Design master’s course at TU Munich have taken a closer look at the subject of demography as part of their studies. The issue of a considerable increase in life expectancy and an increasingly older population is the reason there are currently 2.5 million people in Germany in need of care and, of these, a good two-thirds have to be looked after as outpatients. As the following example shows, medical equipment does not have to be expensive or even cutting edge to be effective.


The project group focused on an ever-aging society combined with outpatient care and, against this background, looked for products and solutions to alleviate all participants’ everyday lives. Back and knee problems are probably carers’ most frequent complaints as petite colleagues are also required to lift heavy patients. Even the use of aids such as walking frames or wheelchairs is often not enough to reduce the physical exertion required. Research outcomes from the world of climbing have contributed considerably to establishing new developments such as hand grips used in the caring professions and have helped reduce demands on the body. In addition, the so-called activating care that can be implemented by using hand grips motivates patients to participate in being lifted.


As a result, in addition to other outcomes, a carers’ waistcoat has been designed for Johanniter employees, that is both a work uniform and also helps to care for patients at the same time. The way it does this is by means of various grips attached to the waistcoat that distribute the load of the patients across the whole of the carer’s body. Intentional standardised shape and colour do not only ensure that the Johanniter themselves are readily recognisable but also serve indirectly to improve the carers’ sense of self-worth and contribute to an increase to the attractiveness of caring as a profession in general. To ensure that other items in daily use are always to hand, for example, gloves or disinfectant, there is a bag attached to a strap that can be simply pushed around the body from the wearer’s stomach onto the back and round again. 


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