PRODUCT — 2017
Access + Ability, 2018
Student Project Selection
Improving hydration accessibility for patients at home
Fluid is an adaptive drinking aid system for bedridden patients that uses form, materials, and accessories to ease the act of accessing water.
The idea for designing an adaptive drinking aid came from my personal experience helping my family when my father was in home hospice care. Seeing the issues that could arise performing a basic need convinced me there was a need to look at how the form of a drinking aid could be improved for a sick loved one.
How might I design an accessible drinking aid that would adapt to a patient as they progressed through their illness?
Literature Review + Market Research
I was able to gain first-hand experience observing the difficulties my father went through as his illness progressed, as well as the difficulties my mother experienced as a primary caregiver. To gain a broader perspective, I utilized public patient and caregiver forums, research papers, and case studies.
KEY FOCUS AREAS
What is the relationship between dehydration and bedridden patients?
What are the current drinking aids on the market and their pros/cons?
Who interacts with drinking aids, how, and how often?
Based on my research, I decided to focus on a patient that was in the middle stages of their cancer illness, who would need assistance from the caregiver for certain activities, such as walking to the bathroom, but was not completely reliant on the caregiver. I developed an experience map for the caregiver and patient illustrating a typical day to understand the activities they would each perform, their thoughts, and mapping out their energy levels.
1. ROLE OF MOVEMENT
The patient moves, with the assistance of the caregiver, to different rooms multiple times a day requiring the caregiver to move the drinking aid as well.
2. CONTINOUS ASSISTANCE
The caregiver will either carry the drinking aid leaving one hand for balance support for the patient, putting the patient at a greater risk of falling (or) leave the drinking aid and retrieve it after they have moved the patient.
3. DESIRES INDEPENDENCE
The patient wants to be as independent as possible.
4. PHYSICAL FORM
The current drinking aids can leak and need to be placed on a table requiring the patient to reach and grab for it, which can be difficult for weak patients.
Movement plays a central role to the difficulties that drinking aids can present to patients and caregivers because the drinking aid has to be moved with the patient.
However, movement played a central role in the day of a patient because it acted as a form of exercise.
My design should be flexible and transition with the patients as their health degrades.
My design should provide independence to the patient.
My design should allow the patient to access liquid while in different positions (ex. sitting up, reclining).
My design should be easy for the caregiver (or patient) to carry from one room to another.
I explored using silicone within my design because it is a malleable and flexible material which allows the user to grip it easily. I performed form exploration through sketching and modeling focusing on developing a form that would easily rest in the hand, on a table, as well as against the body.
The Fluid System
The Fluid system consist of a vessel and interchangeable accessories that are designed to adapt to different scenarios that may arise throughout an illness. Fluid is designed to ease the access to water during these transitions to help prevent dehydration and ease the reliance on the caregiver and provide the patient with more independence.
FLEXIBLE FOR PERFORMANCE
The main vessel is made of a silicone part to help prevent leakage and enable it to be flexible, which assists in holding, especially for patients with a weak grasp. The wide and narrow shape of Fluid allows it to easily rest on the body of the patient and provides an area to firmly hold it with one or two hands. By providing a flexible straw, it reduces the amount of forward "sitting up" movement the patient needs to do to access liquid.
FLEXIBLE FOR DIFFERENT SCENARIOS
The removable plastic accessories are designed to be interchangeable with the 4 oz. and 8 oz. size main vessels. Each accessory is designed for a specific scenario that may arise as a patient progresses in his illness. The accessories featured include a tabletop holder for storage when not in use, a clip style for blankets or clothing, a holder for hanging on a hospital bed, and a handle style to turn Fluid into a cup with a handle.
Cooper Hewitt: Access + Ability
This project was selected to be part of the Cooper Hewitt’s Student Design Showcase during their Access + Ability exhibition. My project was displayed in the museum and I was invited to present my work to a panel of inclusion and accessibility experts, including Margaret Price from Microsoft, Keira Hwynn, Elise Roy, and Walei Sabry.
This personal project is an ongoing passion project for me. Next steps is to prototype using the correct materials (silicone) to user test and gain an understanding of the grip and feel when holding a more flexible version of the form. This user testing will further inform the design and scale of the silicone vessel, as well as the additional accessories, such as the hand handle accessory, so that they accommodate a range of hand sizes and grip strengths.