Designing with and for Older People

  • Joe LangleyEmail author
  • Gemma Wheeler
  • Rebecca Partridge
  • Remi Bec
  • Dan Wolstenholme
  • Lise Sproson
Part of the Intelligent Systems Reference Library book series (ISRL, volume 167)


 Assistive technology (AT) can play a key role in helping older people live more independent and fulfilling lives for longer. However, several studies suggest that the current offerings of the AT market cater only to ‘functional’ needs, and do not fit within the complex realities of people’s lives, their personal preferences or the potential for user’s needs to change over time. As such, AT’s have a high rate of abandonment, arguably leading to increased risks to potential user’s health and safety. In other areas of healthcare, the involvement of patients or ‘users’ to ‘co-design’ products or services is being increasingly recognised as in important route to context-sensitive, person-centred and sustainable health innovation. This chapter will outline ways in which older adults can be involved in a ‘co-design’ process, with the belief that this involvement may address some of the issues with current AT. The authors propose 5 key principles of effective co-design and illustrate them with a case study from their practice. This is followed by a set of practical tips, as well as a discussion on how ‘doing’ and ‘making’ can play a key role in helping diverse stakeholder groups work together meaningfully. Finally, by contrasting the trends of the AT market with the development of commercial technology over the last 30 years, the authors also posit that a cross-generational co-design approach may be necessary in order to anticipate (or be responsive to) the emergent needs of future users of AT. It is hoped that the guidance and examples given here are merely the start of this conversation, and that practitioners from healthcare, design, academia and industry see the value of exploring these ideas further in their own contexts and communities.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joe Langley
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Gemma Wheeler
    • 1
  • Rebecca Partridge
    • 1
  • Remi Bec
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dan Wolstenholme
    • 2
    • 1
  • Lise Sproson
    • 3
  1. 1.Lab4LivingSheffield Hallam UniversitySheffieldUK
  2. 2.NIHR CLAHRC YHSheffieldUK
  3. 3.NIHR Devices for Dignity MICSheffieldUK

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