Age & Ability Lab / Research Associate: Ross Atkin / Research Partner: Stannah

Maintaining mobility in the home becomes more important as we get older, especially the challenge of moving between floors when stairs become too difficult to use. However, older people constitute a vast and varied group. People in their late 60s and early 70s – the boomer generation – can differ in their attitudes and abilities to those aged in their 80s. This project, with stairlift manufacturer Stannah, created a portrait of ageing in the home to explore the needs and expectations of tomorrow’s stairlift customers.

Research was conducted with two cohorts of older people. Current customers described the reality of living every day with a stairlift and baby boomers aged 67 to 73, who were not stairlift users, helped to articulate future expectations. By embedding smart technology in the stairlift, the study explored how it could function as a node in the network of care around its owner. This serves two purposes: friends and family are reassured that the person is mobile in their home; and older people, especially baby boomers, can minimise the demands they place on those around them. Scenarios were developed to demonstrate the user benefits of these technology systems.

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