13.5 C
Sydney
Thursday, June 30, 2022

Designer Pound working to ensure future generations enter their older years with dignity

Must read

Annabelle Pound is on a mission to use her skillset to shape a sustainable and inclusive future for society’s elders.

Approaching the industry through a lens of creativity and critical thinking, the senior experience designer at Designit’s Sydney office, pictured above, works to strategise how healthcare systems, services and products can be reimagined to better empower and cater for the individual needs of older persons.

She tells Aged Care News that she was drawn to innovating in the health and aged care space due to her close relationship with her own beloved grandparents.

“My parents always encouraged my brother and I to have a strong relationship with our grandparents, and as a teenager, I spent a few months living with my nanna after my grandfather died, which created a special bond between us.”

I started to tie together all of my thinking, to really realise that, globally, we have an ageing population, things aren’t too great at the moment, and I really don’t want my parents to experience this — and I don’t want to experience this.

Designit senior experience designer, Annabelle Pound

Concerned by the disturbing findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Pound says that she saw a real need for new, innovative solutions to a sector in crisis.

“I started to tie together all of my thinking, to really realise that, globally, we have an ageing population, things aren’t too great at the moment, and I really don’t want my parents to experience this — and I don’t want to experience this.”  

As a ‘user experience’ designer, Pound focuses on the interaction between human users and everyday products and services, such as websites, apps etc. The discipline combines everything from psychology, business and market research to design and technology.

Working for a human-centred design firm, she says, was a clear choice.

“I’m very much driven by finding a way to help people, and design is definitely a way that can allow me to do that.”

The core tenants of such designing work — a deep sense of empathy and abundant curiosity for the diverse experiences of others — she explains, has been a core requisite for developing effective solutions for the ageing community.

“The very core of what we do as human-centred designers is understanding the why and then we move on into developing solutions based on how your human needs factor into a problem.

I’m very much driven by finding a way to help people, and design is definitely a way that can allow me to do that.

Annabelle Pound

“And then the level beyond that is humanity-centred design, which relates to those community problems and systemic problems and how that all works together.

“So there’s layers to it all, but for us working at Designit, we are a human-centred design agency, and we have this phrase that we like to use: ‘ignite shared progress’.

“So we work with clients to turn those complex  — often systemic  —  problems like ageing and aged care… into a thoughtful, inclusive experience that is holistically designed.”

Pound says that in order to develop comprehensive reforms that will enable true quality of care for all elders, government and aged care providers must move away from the ‘one-size fits all approach’ that has dominated the care system’s design to date.

“These one size fits all approach that we have is excluding so many different people, and I think that is just an oversight of not considering that Australia is such a diverse country; we have a multitude of cultural backgrounds.

“I think that there has been a mistake of maybe just considering the mainstream user, or — not to be too controversial — the ‘white user’ of a lot of aged care services, and I think we need to understand that people have distinct and separate needs.”

User experience designers, such as those at Designit, work on making products and technology usable, enjoyable and accessible for humans.

Furthermore, Pound emphasises the need for long-term, sustainable policy solutions, with knee-jerk reactions providing little benefit for quality-of-care over time.

“I think aged care providers might be panicking a bit and thinking, like, ‘we need to implement solutions immediately’.

“And that’s when it starts cutting corners when it comes to really understanding people’s needs and community needs,” she says.

“Oftentimes, the things that they implement end up being more manual tasks for aged care workers and things like that.”

In contrast, Pound says that more work needs to be done behind the scenes, involving innovation in service delivery systems, and requiring business owners to listen to workers’ needs and tailor solutions around them, as opposed to metrics relating to business outcomes.  

“Good service design might not necessarily be visible, but that’s fine.

“It means that it seamlessly integrates into a system where people’s needs are understood and met, and it leads to the sort of end to end customer journey that works — even if it’s something as simple as a mobile application to help understand a person’s needs.”

Such an example is currently being trialled in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), an application called ImproveWell.

Allowing anonymous input and available 24/7, the app allows employees to suggest ideas for improvement, share how their workday is going, and complete tailored surveys.

The data is collected in a dashboard that helps managers track workforce sentiment, prioritise improvements, measure change and publish improvement reports.

It is essential that we are listening and uplifting the voices of those, not only receiving the care, but planning and providing that care and engaging with that care, including families.

Annabelle Pound

“It’s a very quick and easy way to get accurate data from healthcare workers about their mindset about things that they might want changed,” Pound says.

“That feedback can then be really turned into actionable insights, and I think that’s what’s key, really acting on the feedback that they’re getting, really trying to fix a problem to make these places an enjoyable place to work.”

Pound said such initiatives are an example of moving towards ideal healthcare system designs, which value all stakeholders’ perspectives and experiences.

“It is essential that we are listening and uplifting the voices of those, not only receiving the care, but planning and providing that care and engaging with that care, including families.”

Another core area of improvement, according to Pound, is the provision of housing that facilitates ageing-in-place.

According to the Grattan Institute, more than a million older Australians require home care services each year, and this number is set to grow as the ageing population increases and most prefer the idea of ageing at home, as opposed to entering a residential facility.  

Despite this, Pound points out that the homes that we’re currently designing aren’t allowing people to naturally age-in-place.

“I just don’t think we should be waiting for someone to have a fall or to think ‘maybe I should install a hand-rail or something’,” she says.

Creating a truly inclusive world might seem like a big-dream goal, but I think it’s just going to create these healthy attitudes towards ageing, because it also impacts how you, yourself, age…  it’s going to mean that you enter those later years with a with a much more positive attitude.

Annabelle Pound

“It’s about starting that thought process a lot earlier, when we’re designing homes, so that it just becomes natural.

“For example, having wider halls or wider doorways is great for older people, but someone having a walking stick isn’t just exclusive for that age group.

“I think it extends into a bigger picture of truly accessible homes that don’t just cater for older people, but a range of needs.”

Next year, Pound will be moving to London to study a research-based masters in healthcare design at the Royal College of Art.

“Aged care is going to be part of the research that I’ll be looking into,” she says.

She is especially excited that her course involves close collaboration with a multi-disciplinary cohort from the Imperial College London.

“We’re going to have healthcare professional and students working together with designers; I’m very excited.”

While she acknowledges there is a lot of work ahead in transforming the nature of aged care, she is dedicated to continue working towards realising a paradigm shift that will tackle ageism and ensure future generations will progress into their older years with dignity.

“Creating a truly inclusive world might seem like a big-dream goal, but I think it’s just going to create these healthy attitudes towards ageing, because it also impacts how you, yourself, age …  it’s going to mean that you enter those later years with a with a much more positive attitude.”

Designit is a global design firm with a progressive focus, working at the intersection of strategy, design, marketing, and technology to develop humanity-centric solutions to the global problems in energy, healthcare, finance, technology and more.

- Advertisement -

Leave a Reply

Latest article

- Advertisement -
Processing...
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Email newsletter sign-up
ErrorHere