The UK population is now around 65 million - population growth and profile has been stimulated by increasing levels of net immigration in the UK, longer life-spans and a recovery in birth rates in recent years.
The proportion aged 65 and over reached 18% in mid-2016, according to the Office for National Statistics. Additionally, the Disabled Living Foundation estimates that there are over 10 million disabled people in Britain, and two million people with sight problems in the UK. This highlights the potential demand for sanitary ware and washroom products which cater for all needs.
Therefore the demands of an ageing population have resulted in products for older and less mobile people becoming incorporated into more mainstream design. This trend towards ‘Inclusive design’ is an industry approach to ensuring that products are designed to include all ages and abilities, with multiple use, primarily without assistance.
The UK population is ageing, which is likely to continue to create demand for special needs equipment. Overall, the population is expected to grow by 9.7 million within the next 25 years, to reach 74.3 million in 2039; by 2033, nearly a quarter of the population will be aged over 65.
Changing tastes mean that visual aesthetics are likely to become as important as technology and functionality in this sector; this is likely to give rise to product innovation. Long gone are the days where accessibility means clinical, why would a disabled user not also want a comfortable, stylish and pleasant washroom experience?
Designing for the visually impaired is expected to become more significant given the ageing population and a rise in diabetes and obesity levels. The visual appeal, aesthetics and styling of brassware have generally become more important.
Diversity is normal – design all washrooms with this in mind.
The anatomy of hands
In order to appreciate the need for well-equipped products where handling is involved, there needs to be a level of understanding about the anatomy of hands. There are a total of 27 bones in each hand and wrist, all connected with ligaments, tendons and muscles. Ligaments and tendons stay the same length but muscles shorten when they contract, therefore when a muscle does contract, it pulls on the tendon which moves the bone to which it is attached. The palm of the hand contains a network of nerves and blood vessels, so it should not be subjected to excessive pressure. As damage to the soft tissues can result in bruising, numbness or tingling in the fingers.
Types of grip
There are two main types of grip a person uses, firstly there is the ‘power grip’, something you would do to hold a hammer, weight or something heavy. Your whole hand will wrap around the handle, using strong muscles in the forearm.
Then there is the ‘precision grip’, something you would do to hold a pencil or small brush, so that you can execute movement with precision. This will use smaller and weaker finger muscles.
Even with this short introduction into the anatomy of the hands and forearm, we can all tell if we are using a badly designed product or tool by the way our hands/wrist feel when using it. So if a user suffers with nerve damage, arthritis, loss of hand/arm, Parkinson’s, old age, immobility or any other type of issue that alters the way they use and see products, then the design of products in public places is crucial if we are to make the washroom inclusive for as many users as possible.
What does ‘Ergogrip’ style mean?
Taking this information into account, we at Dolphin have launched a new ‘Ergogrip’ design for some of our Doc M compliant products. Taken from the term ‘Ergonomics’ – the study of human interaction with the working environment, an ergonomic grip implies the study of human interaction with the product in question and how it has then been worked on to deliver an improvement for the user/users of that product.
‘Ergogrip’ is the way the tube is designed, apart from the more attractive styling; the flat areas of the rails, particularly the drop down rails, can be of benefit to some users as they put their weight down onto the rail using the palm of the hand. The flat area can offer less of a point loading than a round rail and could prove less painful. This could be even more beneficial with a drop down rail on either side of the WC as the flat areas can be more comfortable for someone that needs to rock from side to side, to lower or raise their clothing taking their body weight on their forearms resting on the rails. This would be suitable for a Peninsular WC Doc M room layout, but not for a corner layout. In a corner layout, the matching grab rail would do the same job as the 2nd hinged rail.
In our new ‘Ergogrip’ product range you will find rails for both washrooms and showers, in the hope that for both accessible led facilities, we can help cater for more users.
Where can I view these products?
We have a showroom in Farringdon London and another in Bodiam, East Sussex. We have different product ranges on display with product specialists available that you can discuss all your project related requirements with. If you would like to book an appointment with one of our specialists at either of our showrooms, or would like a product specialist to come to you; click the button below.