Ford Fiesta or Golf Buggy? We should have more choice than this!

Here in North Cornwall lies the sandy haven of Bude. Whilst walking the coastal footpath near the town’s magnificent sea-pool we saw a woman in some form of four-wheel drive wheelchair tearing over the dunes. She appeared to have absolutely no fear traveling at what must have been full speed. At ‘Dare To Be Purple’ we love talking to anyone with a ‘Purple’ attitude so this was a woman we definitely wanted to meet!

We eventually managed to catch up with her and she kindly stopped for a chat. It turned out she was testing the wheelchair for the manufacturer and given what we had seen she was definitely giving it a good workout.  Now, we’re not here  to plug the wheelchair, she wasn’t actually that impressed with it but what we do want to write more about is the cost of the thing! 

Why does this and similar types of chairs cost the price of small, well equipped family cars?

Honestly tell us why are we having to pay between £10,000 and £15,000 for what are no more than glorified golf buggies?

All terrain wheelchairs are not revolutionary; they are generally no more than chairs with large wheels and thick treads, so where is the disruptive innovation to change this market and displace such ‘lazy’solutions? 

Continuing the comparison, wheelchairs v cars, lets go back to when cars broke the mould, when something different happened – the late 19th century. 

The early cars produced were innovative for their time but restricted to a very small market. They were an expensive luxury and therefore did not disrupt the mass transportation system, horse-drawn vehicles. This market essentially remained intact until the debut of the lower-priced Ford Model T in 1908. The mass-produced automobile was a disruptive innovation, because it changed the market, whereas the first thirty years of automobiles did not.

I’m not saying we need mass production to solve the problem of all terrain wheelchairs but we do need a disruptive event of some kind and lets not rely on current manufacturers to deliver this.  Disruptive innovations tend to be produced by outsiders, entrepreneurs rather than existing market-leading companies. Why? Essentially the business environment of today does not allow them to pursue disruptive innovations because their development takes scarce resources away from getting the most revenue from existing products.

So what’s the answer if we want some real disruptive innovation?

At ‘Dare To Be Purple’ we believe that the successful formula for a disruptive market is inspirirational designers and lots of aspirational consumers -people who demand more than what they are being offered.  We’re continually looking for the designs that offer more and we could do with the help of aspirational customers to do this. Why not join us on Twitter and Facebook and help give designers an agenda for some disruption support them to help manufacturers be a bit more ‘Purple’, a bit more responsive. If not, we’ll continue to pay family car prices for smart looking golf buggies for some time to come and given that choice I’d rather have a Fiesta!

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Naidex 2016 Highlights

A few highlights of Naidex 2016

This year, Naidex proudly played host to a range of sporting representatives from across the spectrum of disability sport. International athletes from GB Wheelchair Basketball, Boccia and Powerchair Football engaged visitors in Q&A sessions, introducing many to the sports on offer. David Gardener, a Wheelchair Tennis player and Paralympian from Athens 2004 spoke to visitors about his role as a member of the British Paralympic Association as well as his formidable sporting career. With the 2016 Paralympic games now fewer than a hundred days away, there’s a strong buzz in the para-sporting world and Naidex was glad to share in the excitement of the coming games in Rio.

As well as the impressive list of well-known faces, Naidex exhibited the latest sporting equipment and technology. Roma Sport, the best British manufacturer of rugby chairs, displayed their latest designs, alongside big names in para-sport such as Wheelpower, CP Sport and representatives from the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS). Marketing and communications manager of EFDS, Courtney Perks, confirmed that Naidex was a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about the rising participation in disability sport and to reach out to those who have not yet found their niche. EDFS supports a large number of disability sport associations, including LimbPower, British Blind Sport, Dwarf Sports Association UK and UK Deaf Sport.

Other exciting new technology on show included the Genny, winner of the Best in Show Award, which is designed not only to provide extra day-to-day comfort to the chair user, but also to allow a revolutionary level of access. Off-road tyres, self-balancing technology and weather-proof controls give to user more freedom, opening inaccessible grounds such as beaches, woodland or rocky terrain. The Genny also promoted the advantages of its steering-handle over traditional pushing. Gloves and jumpers, normally made damp or muddy, stay clean and dry, and the user is able do ‘the little things’ that a walker may take for granted – holding a dog’s lead, holding a drink, holding a partner’s hand.

All three days were packed with exciting new innovations and the enthusiasm was evident, in both the visitors and the exhibitors! Inspiring Q&A sessions, engaging seminars and dynamic displays once again captured the public’s imagination and helped Naidex maintain its atmospheric ‘People’s Choice’ ratings in the independent living and assistive technology sector.

Over the course of the exhibition, the selection of speakers ranged from the sporting stars previously mentioned, company directors, leading healthcare professionals and decorated keynote addressors. Martyn Sibley, CEO of Disability Horizons expressed perfectly the sentiment of the event – “Everything is possible … when you believe”. Naidex has released the dates for next year’s show, and this will take place, again at the NEC in Birmingham, on 28-30th March 2017. With the mass of positive reviews and the exciting promise brought to the stage this year, it is certain that next year’s exhibition will be just as innovative, moving and educational, if not more so! Be sure to pencil these dates in the diary and see what you could discover at Naidex 2017.

Pleased to meet you – see you at Naidex?

Umbrella_purpleWe thought it was time to share a little more about Dare To Be Purple given we’ve been posting on a range of subjects since last year; introduce ourselves more formally now that we’ve broken the ice so to speak.

Hopefully you know that we’re here to promote good design in assisted living technology, primarily aimed at the over 50’s but we don’t aim to be prescriptive, some of us may need a little help before we reach our half century. However what we are crystal clear about is building a catalogue of the very best designs and services for those that need help when older.

So when did it start? We got into all of this following an elderly relative’s experience after surgery on her foot. It was very apparent that the products being offered – some adaptive shoes to help her walk again were functional but with a hospital look and an elderly feel she described them as ‘beige’ and something she would never wear – a sentiment shared by the handful of other people in the same hospital treatment room.

It wasn’t at this point that we were motivated to do something it was when, despite our cajoling, encouragement, threats, lies, pleading and abject supplication she steadfastly refused to take them out of the box! She would rather be immobile or risk a fall than leave the house in those shoes. Worrying for us as elderly people who fall and need hospitalisation stay almost as twice as long than those elderly patients who are admitted for any other reason. Falls also destroy confidence, increase isolation and reduce independence, with 9 per cent of older people who fall becoming afraid to leave their homes in case they fall again.

And this non-compliance, the refusal to use what’s prescribed or provided costs money; the annual cost of falls of people over 60 in England is £2 billion a year or more than £5.6 million a day but worst of all is that ten per cent of hip-fracture patients over 80 will die within one month of their fracture; 30 per cent will die within a year and there are 13,800 hip-fracture-related deaths a year in the UK!

We now knew the feisty lady we were dealing with wasn’t going to change her opinion so we started to look for alternatives that might appeal to a lady who had lived a full life in the ‘60’s and who is very much the character in Jenny Joseph’s poem Warning .

We found a world of great designs not only in shoes but also other products, unfortunately though it took a lot of time as they were not in one place and this  was when we had our Eureka moment: curate the very best of these designs and put them together and build a community of people like our dear relative to ensure we didn’t promote anything that was ‘beige’. However, our aim is not to appeal to fashion aficionados, we just want to offer things that would be worn or used by those who need help, avoiding the beige and embracing Purple!

Jenny’s poem was the inspiration for our name but a real person inspired us to help people with assisted living needs and to her we are truly grateful. We soon hope to launch a ‘one stop shop’ (as they say nowadays) on the intranet for all our ‘Purple’ designs and services and to further encourage comment and debate on these, and other related topics, to make sure we have the best and if not the best, hopefully hear from our ‘Purple Community’ where the best is to be found.

In our hunt so far for these designs we have trawled the internet, (a lot!) gone shopping, (a lot!) and attended conferences and exhibitions far and wide; Germany, Ireland, Dubai and later this month we are going to Naidex www.naidex.co.uk at the NEC in Birmingham on the 26th, 27th and 28th to source more great products and services.

So now we have been formally introduced and shared a little of our story why not join us on Twitter or FaceBook and share your views on what’s Purple and what’s Beige’ out there. If like us you live in the UK join us at Naidex and see what’s on offer yourself. If you do, look out for the Dare To Be Purple team, scouting out the very best for you and of course one particular lady we know quite well!

 

A Purple Review of the Alive and Active home exercise DVD!

In February this year we received a request from Simon at AliveandActive.co.uk to check out their exercise DVD. We’re happy to review any product or service using the willing members of our Purple Community, in fact it’s one of the things we’re keen to do, to help sort out the Purple from the Beige!

First we checked out their website and loved their goal:

‘To ensure that by keeping our elderly population active, they stay independent, confident and happy for as long as possible’.

We also passionately believe that exercise is the best way to live a healthier life for longer, so, after receiving a copy of their video we gave it to our lovely guinea pig Mrs KW who lives near Coventry; here is her report.

“This DVD is the best one I have found which is specially suited for the older person who has done no exercise and needs to start, or has done very little. I started a gentle exercise class once a week which is very similar; but once a week is not enough. This is perfect for me I can use it whenever I wish. The music is catchy and after a few times copying the screen I now instinctively do the movements. The sitting exercises are particularly good as all one needs is a dining chair and enough space to walk around it”. Mrs KW, Bedworth.

So it’s resounding ‘Purple’ for Alive and Active.

If you have a view of comment on this or any other product or service do let us know and if, like Simon, you want a product or service reviewed then email contact@daretobepurple.com. Our reviews are not edited (excepting spelling and grammar and only if absolutely necessary), so you’ll always get a genuine appraisal as to whether what you do is Purple or Beige!

Senior couple keeping fit and being active walking in the the woods - Dare To Be Purple - Purple Hearts

New fitness technology – not just glorified pedometers…

#PurpleHearts

Maybe you’ve had a slow start to 2016, or haven’t gotten round to making those New Year’s Resolutions that most people forget after January 3rd… But it’s not too late to take charge of the one thing most people try to tackle in their ‘New Year, new me’ schemes – fitness.

There are some fantastic new products on the market, in the form of innovative smart watches and phone apps, to personalised fitness routines and meal planners that are easy to use and suitable for everybody. Campaigns like ‘This Girl Can’ and ‘Change4Life’ are encouraging men and women of all ages and sporting abilities to keep active and healthy and there’s no reason why anybody with a disability or mobility impairment should miss out. One way to really get stuck in to fitness is to get to know the effect that your exercise is having on your body, both during and after activity, and to track your progress on interactive charts that many products and apps now offer.

Using the Apple Watch, for example, you can set timers that will remind you to stretch your legs, if you’ve been sitting at a desk too long, or to remind you of pressure relief if you’re a wheelchair user. You can make unique exercise plans set personal goals on apps like the step-counter, heartrate monitor and calorie counter. It offers different exercise options from walking and pushing to cycling and rowing. You can also track your exercise routes on mini maps and compare the distance and difficulty of your various trails with your friends. Since many hesitate over the Apple Watch because of the price, there are cheaper alternatives on the market and, although they don’t feature the signature Apple touch screen, they can still monitor body function, assess the quality of your sleep and connect to a PC so you can trace your progress.

Fitbit have eight models that range from £45 to £200, depending on how many different things you want it to do. The most basic Fitbit, the ‘Zip’, will count your steps, keep track of your active minutes and, of course, tell the time. The most advanced model, the ‘Surge’, offers things you’d expect from a smartphone: GPS tracking, music control, text and call notifications and sleep assessment. It automatically recognises when you begin to exercise, counts steps and floors climbed, monitors heartrate and offers multiple sport settings, to make sure the data it gives you is as accurate as possible. The models in between the Zip and the Surge offer different groups of functions, so you can choose how much or how little would be most useful to you. The Fitbit also comes in up to ten colours, depending on the model, so you can even get personal with the aesthetics.

Some wheelchair users choose not to wear a watch but, if you have a smartphone, you can always find apps that will help you create exercise tables and design meal plans. Argus, for example, is a neat all-in-one activity tracker that monitors your sleep, heart rate, calorie intake and more. The app offers challenges to overcome, as well as the option to build your own workout plan. You can even add food you eat by scanning the barcode on the label to track your calories. Some apps, such as Carrot Fit and JETFIT offer short, intense workouts for different parts of the body, depending on what you need to work on and… they’re free! Many both educate about anatomy and help the user to observe and improve their own fitness. Why not try one today? They take seconds to download and cost nothing.
It’s also a bit different from the standard chocolates and flowers this Valentine’s Day. If you and your other half exercise together, it’s a great way to compare progress and share achievements. If you’re not gym buddies, perhaps a gift like a Fitbit will start a new, ‘healthier living’ chapter!

 

Out and about exercises

Check out the if there are any specially designed exercise classes in your area Extend Exercise Classes or moveitorloseit www.moveitorloseit.co.uk in your area

Free Guided Walks throughout the UK

Two rollators designed for outdoors and offroad

  • Topro Olympos from Norway
  • The tires designed to be comfortable driving on rough foundations like cobblestone or dirt roads and Made from materials that tolerate all kinds of weather.
  • kerb lifters and edge guard.

 

If you don’t want to or can’t leave the house (or even your chair) then don’t let that stop you:

Motorised Pedal Exercisers or Magnetrainer

Senior Exercise DVDs

Cando hand exercisers

The Chairmaster, not yet available in the UK but is this purple or beige? What do you think?

 

If you want to get in touch to recommend a product to review or have your own product that you want to talk about, let us know!

 

Older man being active and driving a care - Dare To Be Purple

Keep on moving – in your Porsche!

#MoveWithTheTimes

 

You know that the over 50’s have it all when you read an article from SAGA that we as a group spend more on motoring than any other age.

People over 50 spent £7.6 billion in 2014 on new cars; more than £6 of every £10 of new car spend in Britain, and were also twice as likely to opt for a Porsche, Mini or Jaguar than anyone else.

Car ownership, which keeps the over 50 mobile and engaged in social activities, has been steadily rising since 2000 and this increase has been especially dramatic for those over 75 as people in the UK live longer.

Keeping mobile has an upside for UK Plc because people who can get about remain independent for longer, reducing care and health costs.

So what Purple products are out there out there to help us all keep moving? Well it’s hard to find a stand out product here but given their functionality, here’s 9 categories that can keep you moving, together with a reminder about the things you need to know about driving when you’re older. Sometimes it makes sense to act within the law!

Handy_bar

Car Caddie - Dare To Be Purple

Swivel_seat.png

Auto_hand_grips

Banana_transfer_board

Vehicle_ramp

Key_turner.png

Steering_knob.png

 

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The Purple Community – Celebrate Purple! Denounce the Beige!

In 2016 and beyond Dare to be Purple wants to keep on moving and to build a community to champion brighter, bolder and better designed enabling aids. We want to challenge the dull and uninspired and the frankly beige thinking that is being foisted upon the generations that were Mods, Rockers and Punks, rode motor cycles without helmets, went grape picking in France, hitched rides with strangers (and lived to tell the tale) and were the first to get to grips with new electronic technology in the home.

We’re not looking to be moaning minnies, we just want to encourage an inclusive, lively and ongoing discussion about the current products on offer and what we would want to see in the future. This Purple Community needs people like you to share your thoughts and ideas and in turn help designers and manufacturers who haven’t had any first-hand experience of living with mobility or other age related difficulties do a better job. The more followers we have, the more sway we’ll hold as a community!

We’d love to hear what you have to say – about products you’ve found, designs you enjoy using, or questions you’d like to ask each other or of our own Dare To Be Purple experts. Join us today by following us on Twitter or Facebook and help our community flourish!

Assisted living products shouldn't have to be beige! Dare To Be Purple Blog

So many assisted living products look clinical and unhomely… Are there better designs?

Assisted living products are designed to do exactly that – assist living. Unfortunately, it often seems as though this is the only design criteria and the product, however useful, just doesn’t look like something you’d want in your house. Although most of us will only need mobility aids in later years, there are those that require assisted living products from an earlier age. Just as children’s wheelchairs come in bright colours (and sometimes with superhero accessories), there’s no reason that other mobility aids shouldn’t be customisable to stages of life between between childhood and old age. Nobody chooses to paint their house beige, so why would they want to incorporate dull, grey living supports into their home? From bathing equipment to adapted couches, it’s hard to find something that fits in. You don’t want your home looking like a hospital… So what can you do?

Have no fear! At Dare to be Purple it’s our goal to show you better options that both function in the way that you need and look the way you want. Take your bathroom, for instance. If you need hand rails, there’s no need for them to be white or grey if you don’t want them to look medical. There are stainless steel alternatives, and putting in a rail with a slight bend or wave can add a stylish look to your necessary aid. Something previously purely functional now looks elegant and fits in to the personal interior of your home.

If you’ve ever spent time in hospital, you’ll know how horrible it can be… So why should you have to fill your home with hospital look-alikes? You don’t! One common qualm is bathing. The hospital suggestion is often a heavy, cumbersome shower chair on wheels, or a commode… No thanks! Living in your own home, particularly when you’re young, you need to be proud of where you live and take care of the rooms in which you’re going to spend a lot of time. A bathroom full of clinical-looking, clumsy bathroom aids won’t make you want to take care of your bathroom or spend time there. It’s time for an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ approach – throw out those beige bores and jazz up your bathroom with stylish and often discrete alternatives. There are some truly fantastic bathing aids out there that look like air cushions and fold up to the size of a bath towel. There are smart seats that lower into and then rise out of the water, and depending on the level support you need, you can find some with backrests and some without. As a paraplegic myself, I use a Mangar bathing cushion which inflates and deflates at the touch of a button, folds away, and comes with a portable battery pack. I don’t see any reason why my paralysis confines me to showers or why my bathing aid needs to look ugly.

Your living aids need to be something you want to use, not just because need to, but because you enjoy using them. Our aim, to bring designs to life, is fuelled by the desire to improve quality of life not just through functionality but by beautiful design. From the kitchen to the bedroom, you have more options than you think, so don’t settle for something that won’t bring pleasure or look right in your home. Out with the beige, in with the bold!

 

If you use Purple products in your life, we’d love to hear about them – get in touch with us here.

Man ignoring woman on phone - Dare To Be Purple Blog

“A vision of Hell” – Guest blog

This week we have from our Purple Community a guest contributor. Boxy is a retired teacher now living in Cornwall. He is very active, healthy and extremely fit. He owns no technology apart from a phone connected to a landline and an ordinary television: no microwave, computer and certainly not a smartphone. Read his blog to find out why he thinks we should all put our mobiles away to avoid turning to a mushy Beige!

If you want to challenge this view; if you believe the genie is out of the box and can never be put back; that mobile technology is a Purple boon to modern life, then use the reply function or email contact@daretobepurple with a 1000 words on why a mobile is an essential aid and we’ll post it on your behalf.

Mobile Phones: A vision of Hell!

I have never owned a mobile phone and cannot imagine that I ever will. It is not a Luddite stance against the march of technology and the explosion of social media. It is a lifestyle choice and I can remember vividly the moment when this resolve first manifested itself.

My wife and I were on holiday in Tuscany and Umbria nearly 20 years ago. The mobile phone was not common in Britain then; I’m not even sure if I’d seen one ever used, but it was the last word in cool sophistication in Italy, particularly amongst the affluent young. It was the Rubik cube for twenty something fashionistas, the loomband for the electronic generation.

We were in a smart restaurant and at a large circular table next to us were some of the beautiful people. They should have been flirting, flaunting their wit and repartee or engaged in a heated political debate. Instead, they ignored each other, preferring to play with their new phones, which rang constantly. It seemed they only wanted to interact with those who weren’t there. It was a glimpse of the future. It was a vision of hell.

Now, many years, later, I am unable to call home when I’m away. My wife doesn’t worry. She knows that the handful of public telephones still on the street are either vandalised or out of order. No-one reports this state of affairs because everyone has a mobile. Sometimes friends say, “I couldn’t get hold of you”. That’s OK, I don’t want to be at your beck and call. I don’t want to answer a phone when I’m fishing or watching day three of a cricket match or walking along a coastal footpath. Ah, but what would happen if I broke my ankle on such a walk? I don’t know, but we didn’t wait to enjoy a little solitude until the mobile phone was invented. Would I get a signal anyway? And let’s face it, a life without risk is no life at all.

Think of the benefits I enjoy. I do not demean myself by taking ‘selfies’. I will not step in front of a lorry whilst I’m tweeting some inanity. On trains and buses I will actually speak to people or I can read a book or newspaper instead of receiving news that someone I’ve never even met has just added a second spoonful of sugar to his latte. No one will show me their disrespect by texting to say they are “running late” and will arrive 15 minutes after the time we had prearranged for our rendezvous. That of course is another function of the mobile. It is a licence to never have to be on time.

As these devices become smarter and smarter they facilitate our descent into a state of childlike ignorance and helplessness. Hurray! We no longer need to know anything. There’s an app to help you find the pub, identify a bird, tie a shoelace. If you don’t know something don’t bother trying to work it out, don’t think about it or even discuss it – GOOGLE it! You don’t know the capital of Venezuela or who played in goal for Brighton in the Cup Final, well, racking your brains is so last century. Google it for instant satisfaction and, then, forget it. Next time South American capitals or The Seagulls crop up in conversation – if you are still having conversations – you can Google it again!

You don’t have to attend a Buddhist retreat to realise that it might be a good thing to live in the moment as far as possible. While you’ve got that electronic toy in front of your face you are preventing yourself from doing so. Put it away. Get a real life.

Woman angry and frustrated with bad packaging - Dare To Be Purple Blog

Black Friday can lead to a Purple rage!

Today, Black Friday, the latest American fad to be imported here to the UK, will see thousands of us buying presents for our loved ones which they will struggle to open. I’m not just talking about our elderly and less able friends and relatives; everyone struggles to open the electronic equipment or gadget sealed in the hard plastic container that can only be opened with the help of the sharpest implements in your cutlery drawer or your toolbox!

Commonly found entombing electronic goods, razors and even toys, this packaging is called the clamshell or the oyster and rightly so because you’ll certainly need something to prise it open with – bare hands won’t do the job.

With a hard sealed plastic back and front, the clamshell requires sharp scissors, a knife or tin snips to open. Some websites even recommend using a tin opener!

Once you’ve made your incision, the fun doesn’t end there – it’s all too easy to cut or scratch your fingers on the sharp plastic as you try to retrieve the item from inside. When you buy something it should be yours – you shouldn’t have to get into a knife fight with it!

This packaging is often used to deter shop lifters (why else wrap up razor blades with this impenetrable shell?) and I feel, to a lesser extent, to protect the goods inside but it has created another problem for us all – ‘wrap rage’!

Most of us have experienced it, frustration, anger and sometime injury! The latest figures I could find were from 1997 when over 67,000 people visited A&E due to an accident involving packaging and this was only 35% of the injuries. The other 65% were treated by their GP or through home remedy. Nearly 20 years later I suspect the figures are not moving South!

Whilst it’s an issue for everyone the most affected are the elderly, people with a disability and those who may have particular problems with reduced eyesight and hand strength.

What can we do? Well perhaps it’s time for some Purple protest and a good place to start a discussion with those who could change things is The Packaging Federation . Secondly support initiatives such as Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging where goods are free from wires, plastic and the usual trappings and shipped in a plain brown box with minimal protective filling and finally until things change, consider buying one of these Package Openers and post it with your present.

This Black Friday help everyone to avoid a Purple Rage and a hospital visit at Christmas!