Now we had met our client and knew what Derwen was all about and what they wanted from us, we were finally prepared and ready to be given our exact briefs.
There were 10 briefs to choose from, based around 4 different themes:
- Intergenerational spaces
- Communicating with business partners
- Addressing the gender imbalance
- Identifying with the Hub
The theme that appealed most to me was the intergenerational theme. I like the idea of the challenge to communicate with a target audience of a huge age range, from children, to adults, to older people. The brief that I have chosen from this theme is: Communicating to Families.
We are working in small groups of 4 during the research stages, and then going on to create our own individual outcomes. We have also been designated a group mentor for the project – ours is Mia Tivey, an illustrator and graphic designer based in London. Mia was on the same course as us here and graduated back in 2013.
After choosing my brief, the next step was to begin putting together a creative brief. In today’s tutorial with Wendy, which was our first tutorial of the project, we spoke about our brief and about ‘the bigger picture’ which really helped me get my head around the project fully and I feel that I now know what the key things I want and need to focus on are.
During our tutorial with Wendy, we brainstormed ideas and grouped them into four key categories:
- The bigger picture
After writing everything that we could think of down on sticky notes and sticking them up in front of us, we narrowed them down to one’s we thought were most important.
After our tutorial, my group and I went on to also make notes on: our objectives for this project; our target audience; and the important things to say/show. All of this, including what we covered with Wendy, will go towards my individual creative brief and help me put it together.
After meeting Vicky Hiscocks, the Head of Active Ageing at Derwen, I now feel that I understand a lot more about who I am designing for and what they want.
Our client is a dedicated older persons housing association called Derwen. Overall, they provide affordable homes to older people on low incomes. They currently already provide over 158,000 homes in Wales, which is about 10% of the Welsh population. They provide over 800 apartments, bungalows and houses, across Newport, Monmouthshire and Caerphilly.
Derwen are currently in the middle of developing a brand new development at the Gaer, in Newport – it’s situated right inside the existing bungalow development at the Gaer. Due to be finished at the end of Autumn this year, the Gaer will include 39 apartments, a communal hub, an outside terrace and landscaped gardens.
Derwen’s key ethos is Active Ageing.
What is Active Ageing?
No, it’s not older people doing zumba classes and yoga.
The most simple definition that Vicky used during her presentation is that:
“Active Ageing is extending healthy life expectancy and quality of life.”
It can also be described as being:
- the process of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security, in order to enhance quality of life as people age; or
- continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affair, not just the ability to be physically active.
Vicky also gave us an idea on who are client group is so that we can better understand who our target audience is. Some points on the resident living at Derwen, include:
- Age range: 55-98 years old (32% are aged 80+)
- Span 2-3 generations
- Generally on low incomes
- Some are still working
- Both couples and single people (75% of residents live alone)
- 68% have mobility problems or a long term illness
- A range of different interests, life experiences and skills
The last bullet point in the list above stands out to me most. I think it’s important to keep in mind that these older people are just like the rest of us, in the way that they are all different and individual, each with their own unique personality and traits. I intend to keep this in mind when it comes to the next few stages of this project.
What the target audience want:
- To be seen as a resource
- To have meaningful activities, where skills can be shared
- To get out and about to see their friends and family (25% of the residents say they only see family, friends or carers, once a week or less)
- To have companions and happy relationships
- To have good health, both physical and mental
- To feel secure and safe
- To have warm, friendly and well-suited living arrangements
- Not to be patronised or treated as passive recipients
Active Ageing priorities:
- Understanding residents (as individuals)
- Increasing health and wellbeing, reducing loneliness and isolation
- Embedding active ageing principles across all of their services
- Evidencing our impact on quality of life
- Learning, testing, innovating, leading
Derwen’s vision for the new development:
- A place which maximises independence for the residents.
- Real opportunities to engage with other residents and the wider community.
- A development which enhances the existing community at the Gaer.
- Lots of good quality outdoor space to help avoid isolation and promote good health.
- A flexible and high standard communal space which will provide a welcoming, central, vibrant focal point for residents and the wider Gaer community.
Amanda Protheroe from the Cardiff School of Health Sciences, who we will be working with us alongside Derwen during this project, visited us in the studio this week to talk to us.
Her talk really made me think more from the older peoples’ point of view and encouraged me to go away and carry out some further research of my own into how older people might perceive or interpret things.
Two key pieces of data have really stuck in my mind from Amanda’s presentation. The first of which is: 64% of older people have a visual impairment; and the other is: 20% (and rising) of 75+ year-olds have some form of dementia. Because these two stuck out to me so much, I have looked further into what it is like to have an eyesight condition or dementia.
Common eyesight difficulties and problems:
- Steady decline in vision, particularly for those who are 50+ years old.
- Glare sensitivity.
- Dim light or too much light can make it difficult to see/read.
- Slower adaption to changes in light levels.
- Colour and depth perception is not as good.
- Way finding is harder.
- Sight loss is a major factor contributing to falls and accidents.
Common dementia difficulties and problems:
- Interpreting shadows or dark areas as holes in the ground.
- Interpreting shiny surfaces as being wet.
- Interpreting bold or busy patterns as being moving objects.
- Struggling to find their way to somewhere (e.g. toilet).
Thinking about these issues that older people may have, I can use different techniques to avoid the potential problems when doing my own ideation and designing. I need to put myself in their (the older peoples’) shoes and experience it as if I am them, and not a young adult.
Things to think about:
- Using good colour contrast will definitely be effective as it will make things more easy and clear to see.
- Any print should be large enough to read – nothing below 16 pt for body text.
- Use effective lighting to reduce shadows, glare and reflections – natural light is the best.
- Good signage will enable independence, confidence and better wellbeing among the older people – iconography/imagery could work well alongside print.
- Artworks can encourage engagement and also help older people find their war around – they can use them like landmarks.
- Avoid distractions.