The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design is an inclusive design and co-design organisation, which is based at the Royal College of Art in London. This means that the aim of the centre is to create real world products and services that have been designed with and influenced by the views of the people who may benefit from using them in the future.
We visited Voice North in January 2016 and held a workshop with six brilliant Voice North members for the project ‘Investigating Arthritis: Health monitoring and self care in the home.’ The main goal of the project is to improve musculoskeletal health for people with osteoarthritis (OA). OA is commonly called ‘wear and tear’ arthritis and is the result of the cartilage, which usually provides a smooth service for two bones to move across one another, is worn away; this causes pain, stiffness and fatigue. Arthritis Research UK funds the project.
The workshop with Voice North members allowed us to gain greater insights into two of our research questions. Where do people find information about their osteoarthritis? And how positivity affects your arthritis? Alongside this we gathered tips and tricks that people use to help make things easier and less painful. We asked individuals to plan their day. We based this around the spoon theory, a metaphor used by individuals with chronic conditions to help explain how their daily lives may be affected by the amount of energy they have. Through these activities we gained insights into how people structure their day and how they deal with bad days when they may be affected more by their OA.
The workshop was invaluable, firstly it gave us the insights of people not living in London, as a London based organisation it is quite easy to become too focused on this area and we wondered if people outside of London may have different experiences to share. Secondly Voice North were brilliant at setting up the list of volunteers which allowed us to put together a group made up of an equal number of males and females, age ranges and mobility needs. We fed back our results to each member of the group and we hope to go back and speak to them again as well as holding further focus groups in the future.
The project is now moving into it’s third phase and we are grateful for the help and support received by Voice North.