A new nurse call assistive device suitable for the residential aged care market, with specific emphasis on making the device easier to use by residents who have manual dexterity problems and in particular, arthritis.
This unique device makes the traditional approach to a nurse call button redundant, by way of radically deconstructing the device to one without a physical button, using a totally new activation method, which incorporates a compliant flexible silicone air-bulb and an air-switch.
The device design team made the adaptive connection between a “squeezable switching action” and a “silicone travel bottle”, to create a re-combination of ideas for a radically new nurse-call actuator concept. This configuration allows any aged care resident to actuate the pendant using not only their hand, or fingers, but also their arm, or any other part of their body that can apply force. The IP is being protected via an international patent.
Research was conducted into hand dexterity pathology, to understand how arthritis impacts on the lives of those in aged care, what kind of influences it can have on hand movement and muscle strength, to determine which forms could improve usage. Particular emphasis was placed on making the new device easier to use by residents with manual dexterity problems. It can now be simply activated by depressing the bulb with any part of the hand or body. The device is simple to locate and identify, in a typical aged care room and is sympathetic to the aesthetic of contemporary aged care environments. Users have a strong emotional bond to the device, as it is the residents “life-line” and connection to their carer.
Numerous visits were made to our residential aged care partners, to investigate not only the resident's specific needs, but also those of aged care service providers. The device is easy for people with arthritis to use, as it can be simply activated by depressing the air bulb with any part of the hand or body. The product is easy to clean, waterproof, durable and capable of enduring the rigors of use in an aged care facility. The soft LED light source allows the device to be visible in low-light conditions, for residents with deteriorating eyesight. It has positive activation feedback to reassure users that it had been activated correctly and it can also be easily customised to meet the precise needs of users.
This product by its nature is a safety product, allowing any age care resident to call for assistance in the event of an emergency. The device is the residents “life-line” to their carer. Nurse call pendants are typically used with a small metal clip attached to the cord, to allow the device to be attached to the resident's bed sheets. The small metal clip however is difficult to use and can damage sensitive elderly skin. The clip was redesigned to make it usable by arthritic hands and has a soft rounded form, to make it safer for residents to rest upon. A suction-cup also allows it to be safely attached to smooth flat surfaces. The device has passed all regulatory standards and has undergone extensive testing.
This Australian designed and manufactured product only uses strong robust materials, to maximise the durable life of the device in an age care environment. The silicone bulb also means that the entire device is waterproof, and will float on water, preventing it from being damaged through submersion. The design team managed the entire development process from initial design brief through to final production, ensuring that the design intent, quality and integrity were controlled and maintained at all stages. Extensive use was made of 3D printed prototype tooling and multi-material 3D printed prototypes, to guarantee the quality and reliability of the final design, production materials and manufacturing processes.
A rigorous CVA process was undertaken with the client organisation throughout the stage-gate product development process, to ensure that the product achieved its target manufacturing cost and market price-point. The Arthritis Nurse Call Device was also extensively trialled in aged care facilities prior to manufacture, to gather detailed feedback on the functional and aesthetic performance of the final device. During user trials, residents were often surprised by how easy it was to activate the pendant and really valued the audio visual activation feedback provided by the device. Following these trials, the pendant commenced production and is now commercially available in both digital and analogue versions.