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Liverpool Mi Smarthouse

Liverpool Mi Smarthouse

Mi Smarthouse Kitchen Area

Mi Smarthouse Kitchen Area

At the Museum of Liverpool there’s a small, unassuming exhibition which looks like the recreation of a normal house. When you get inside you realise it has been setup with every possible gadget and gizmo to support independence. The Mi Smarthouse is a project put together by More Independent (Mi).

More Independent is a Government-funded initiative that is being piloted across four UK regions. As there website says the scheme exists to:

  • enable you to take charge of your health, wellbeing and lifestyle
  • use technology to allow you to feel safer and live more independently in your own home
  • give peace of mind to yourself and your family
  • reduce the amount of time you have to spend on appointments, by supporting you to manage better at home

The Mi Smarthouse at the museum is kitted out with a wide range of equipment covering all the key areas of the home. Here we’re taking a look at some of the gadgets they’ve highlighted and used in their perfect, accessible home.

General

These gadgets could be useful at any place in your home and can make it feel more safe and secure.

Fall Detector

Fall Detector

Fall Detector

A fall detector can be worn around your neck and it connected to a system which will alert your carer if you do fall even if they’re not on the premises.

Large Buttons Picture Telephone

Phone keypads can be hard to use and it can also be difficult to remember phone numbers. This phone has spaces for photographs of those people you call regularly as well as large, clear numbers for when you need to dial out.

Home Safety Alert

The Mi Smarthouse has a bonus caller panic button installed by the front door, giving the residents the chance to press the button if anyone arrives at the door who they’re not comfortable with. Similar home safety alarm system can be found elsewhere too.

Supra KeySafe

Supra KeySafe

Supra KeySafe

The Supra KeySafe is the UK’s first police approved key safe and is the perfect place to store your emergency keys. You choose a combination number and you can share this number only with somebody you trust implicitly.

Carbon Monoxide Sensor

Carbon monoxide can kill. It’s odourless and can’t be seen so the only way to sense it before it is too late is with a dedicated carbon monoxide sensor. Sensors can be easily installed and can save your life.

Fingerprint Lock

A fingerprint lock is a great option if you struggle with keys. You can add the details of your carer and friends as authorised ‘pad-pressers’ so they can get in and out with ease when necessary too.

Kitchen

We’ve talked regularly about the importance of gadgets to make access to the kitchen easier. It’s potentially a dangerous environment so anything to make it less so is a good invention in our book. In the Mi Smarthouse they demonstrated a range of kitchen-specific gadgets.

Talking Microwave

The controls on a microwave oven can be difficult if you have difficulties with your vision or dexterity. A Talking Microwave Oven can help guide you to the buttons you need and it will also tell you when the door is open or closed and let you know whether the food needs stirring or left to stand.

Induction Hob

An induction hob only cooks the pot upon it. There is next to no danger of being burned by it and they’re becoming a common installation in supported living environments to aid independence. This type of hob is also energy efficient and reaches top temperatures in record time. In the Mi House the hob was fitted but they can also be bought as separate electric units .

One cup Kettle

one-cup_kettleWe’ve talked before about how useful the one cup kettle can be. Never worry about spilling boiling water as the kettle will dispense the exact amount you need with the simple pressing of a button.

Entertainment and Living Area

Many of these items listed below could be used all around the house but are most useful when you’re relaxing in front of the TV or lounging on the sofa.

Big Switch and Remote

Big Switch Remote

Big Switch Remote

A Remote Control Big Switch can be positioned wherever you need it to avoid bending to switch off items which have plug sockets uncomfortably out of reach. The big switch can be used with any electrical appliance in the home.

Voice Recorder Switches

If speech has always been or is becoming difficult then these small voice recorder switches can be used to record key phrases. They can have messages such as ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘I want to go home’ ready recorded for when you’re home or out and about when speech has become difficult.

Chair Occupancy Alert

This item is extremely useful if you have an outside care team supporting you as it allows them to monitor the time spent out of your chair. If it seems exceptionally long they may phone you or come around the check everything is OK.

Big Jack Controller

Big Jack Multi-Controller

Big Jack Multi-Controller

The Big Jack can replace all your smaller, fiddly remotes and switches. It can be programmes for a whole range of jobs and can be used to change channels on the TV, switch off lights and even use the telephone.

Personal Care

The personal care element of the home is the most private. Both the bedroom and bathroom are places where you want to maintain as much independence as possible and some of these gadgets are designed to guarantee this as well as ensure you can get the help you need, when you need it.

Epilepsy Sensor

Epilepsy Sensor

Epilepsy Sensor

Living with any form of epilepsy or convulsions can be extremely frightening – especially if you’re alone when one occurs. This epilepsy sensor will alert an outdoor care team if a seizure is taking place, allowing them to provide the right support ASAP.

Enuresis Sensor

Enuresis Sensor

Enuresis Sensor

Designed to fit comfortable under the top sheet, an enuresis sensor will alert your carer to the fight signs of dampness whilst in bed – ensuring you’re not left uncomfortable for a long period of time. We have looked at these aids previously for helping children but they can be equally useful later in life.

Flood Detector

A flood detector will guarantee you never forget about another bath. It’s very easy to forget the bath is running but with the installation of a simple detector, it will be safe and you can avoid the risks of damage to your home and the even higher risk of slipping.

The Mi Smarthouse in Liverpool is one of the first examples of how all this technology can come together and successfully be used to help people remain in their own homes independently. You can take a virtual tour of the Smarthouse here. We recently visited the £D printing exhibition at the London Science Museum and will cover the potential benefits in a future post.

Cool Crutches ideas, Stylish Canes and Glamorous Walking Sticks

Guest Post with some cool crutches ideas

from the excellent BlueBadgeStyle.com:

Trendy Mobility Aids: Sticks, Canes And Crutches For The Discerning Disabled

It can be really hard to find stylish mobility aids. It’s a real shame that so little attention is paid to making crutches and walking sticks that are a little bit more trendy. After all, these are pieces of equipment that people have to use all the time. They shouldn’t be stuck with something dull, clunky, noisy and grey.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of the more trendy mobility aids that we have found:

 

Omhu walking sticks

These canes look really cool! They’re beautifully designed and look really vibrant and stylish. They come in a variety of colours and are apparently built to last a lifetime. They weigh 14 ounces and can support up to 300 pounds.

They’re made from a high-strength bicycle-grade aluminum shaft with a hooked birch wood handle. The handle widens in the right places and has a build in rubber strip to make it more comfortable and practical to hold. The shape of the handle also means that the user holds it directly above the tip which means they have increased stability.

The standard Omhu Cane costs £79 plus shipping costs. They come in three sizes depending on the height of the user.

6 coloured walking sticks made by Omhu

Cool Coloured Canes

 

As well as their standard cane, Omhu have created the Tuxedo – an all black version of their walking cane due to popular demand for a more formal mobility aid. It comes in luxury packaging and the birch handle is stained to make it darker and richer. According to their website: “It is the criminally gorgeous and brooding hero. It is the reflection of a love affair.” This might be a slight overstatement but, whether you agree with that or not, you have to agree it does look very good.

The Tuxedo cane costs £109.

Smart black Tuxedo walking cane from Omhu

Smart Tuxedo Cane from Omhu

Omhu Tuxedo Cane – £109

The final form of Omhu cane is their sports cane which is ostensibly for taking out on hikes and walks. The design is largely the same but  with a matte finish rather than the brighter effect of the standard model.

It’s a fair bit lighter, weighing 9.5 oz. and has a reflective logo, for walking at night. The handle is foam rather than birch wood which makes it more suitable for providing a secure hold on long walks but also makes it a little cheaper (£39.99 plus shipping). It’s not quite as stylish as the standard cane but it is perhaps a little more practical for some people.

Coloured sports canes from omhu

All the Omhu canes look fantastic!

Omhu Sport Cane – £39.99

All the Omhu canes look fantastic and are really creatively designed. It shows that you can do interesting things when designing walking sticks!

Arbin Crutches

Arbin Crutches are great because they are so compact. They’re retractable, so when you are using them they can put aside taking up very little space. It removes the usual problem of your crutches getting in the way and making a unattractive mess, when they aren’t being used. These crutch’s handles slide down from the cuff and up the bottom slides up from the foot of the crutch to the small size of only 67 centimetres. Once folded in it can also be stood up on the handle making it easier to reach as well as being less noticeable. It’s really practical and stylish too!

Arbin crutches also look good when they are at their full height. They’re sleek and cool and they come in bronze or grey. They’re available in the UK at Chic Aid Crutches costing £184 including postage, packaging and VAT.

Graphic showing height adjustable arbin crutches

Height adjustable Arbin Crutches

Arbin Crutches – £184

Folding arbin crutch shown leaning against a chair whilst a man enjoys a date!

Arbin Crutches fold discretely away.

Folds Away Easily And Discreetly

Ossenberg Crutches

These mobility aids have been described as “the Ferrari of crutches”. Ossenberg’s ‘stealth crutches’ are German designed, so you expect efficiency and they don’t let you down. The arm cuff  is one of the most comfortable and well designed on the market. These mobility aids are ultralight, slim and comfortable helping to make their users feel less conscious their disability. They’re really sleek and stylish.

Ossenberg Crutches

Ossenberg crutches are now sold in the UK through Mobility Choices, (an excellent customer focused retailer with a large online range). They have a variety of different designs with open and closed cuffs, different grips and a selection of different colours. Mobility Choices have a range of closed cuff colours that are exclusively sold in the UK. This model costs £49.95 for a pair or £25 each (plus postage). Apparently the most popular colour is the blackberry one below.

Pink and Purple German Crutches

Pink and Purple Ossenberg Crutches are available

Closed Cuff Colours Exclusive To The UK – £25

Crutch with closed cuff

Closed Cuff Crutch

Blackberry Crutch

On top of these great crutches, Arbin have also designed a carbon fibre folding crutch. This looks really cool and can become small and portable. It hasn’t yet been released in the UK but we are led to believe it should become available reasonably soon.

Folding light weight crutch

Lightweight and folding the Ossenberg Carbon Fibre Crutch

Folding Carbon Fibre Crutch – Very Stylish, Easy To Store

Glam Sticks

If you like bling and want to make a bit of a statement with your mobility aids then Glam Sticks is the place to go. In 2011 they were named Mobility Product of the Year. They take no prisoners with their designs – covering the sticks in diamante and sparkles – making everything extravagant and shiny. Glam Sticks look to provide glitz and glamour to go along with your style. They’re particularly good fun for evenings out, providing a bit of glamour to go along with your outfit.

Glittery crutch

Glam Sticks Kaleidoscope Crutch

Kaleidescope Crutch – £57.99

Glam Sticks come in a variety of models and designs with varying prices. The amount you pay is essentially based on how ostentatious you want your stick to be or how much bling you want on your crutches. A fairly basic, but stylish, crutch costs just over £3o. At the top end you can get a Swarovski encrusted walking cane – the ultimate decadent walking stick – for £224.99.

Walking stick with Swarovski crystals embedded

Swarovski Walking Stick – £224.99

 

Glam Sticks have picked up something of a following amongst injured celebrities, adding to their reputation for providing glitz and glamour. For instance, when Jessie J broke her leg last year, she wore a pair of Glam Sticks to the MTV Awards, giving her the required bling to accompany her style. These aids are great for providing a bit of luxury and sparkle, especially for a night out.

Jesse J Using Glam Sticks

Jesse J at MTV awards

Jessie J Using Glam Stick Crutches

Cool Crutches

Cool Crutches offer people a range of crutches with fun, patterned designs. They also have a washable, removable neoprene squidgy grip which moulds to left and right hands and makes walking a lot more comfortable. They are possibly not quite as light and sleek as some of the other crutches we’ve featured but they are fun, colourful and, well, cool!


Most of the crutches cost £47.50 (not including VAT or shipping) but for £67.50 you can create your own custom design for them.

Cool Crutches in polka do designs

Polka Dots from Cool Crutches

Cool Crutches Designs – prices vary

Ellipse Crutches 

This range offers a good range of block colours which liven up the crutches without becoming too garish. This might be preferable to people who don’t want to make quite as much of a statement, with their crutches, as someone who’d go for a Glam Stick, for instance, but who want to add a splash of colour to them.

You can chose from a variety of main and secondary colours to accompany the black handle. This is good because it means you can design your own crutches to be as bright as you want.

They’re available at Chic Crutches and cost £34.99 (plus VAT and shipping)

Chic Crutches

Nice Colour Range – £34.99

 

Mobilegs

Mobilegs have created an interesting new design of crutch, using a ‘saddle’ instead of a the normal cuff at the crutch’s top. This is supposed to improve mobility, flexibility and comfort for users. They say that since it is so radically different, from traditional crutches, it can’t even be called a crutch but has been named a ‘mobi’.

Mobilegs are intelligently designed to help the user and really are quite different. They look a lot better than many traditional crutches too – certainly a lot sleeker, slimmer and less drab than NHS crutches. It’s also possible to get a ‘mobiskin’ to cover the shaft with a more distinct design.

The problem (and it’s quite a big one) is that Mobilegs are currently not available in the UK. When we got in touch with them they told us that they are still a relatively small start up company so they can only cater to the US market. However, since there might be ways around this, especially if you buy them online, we thought they were worth including. They cost $129 plus the (possibly substantial) cost of postage and shipping. We will keep you up to date should there be any change regarding UK distribution. Hopefully there will be soon!

Mobilegs Crutch has a bend in it

The Mobilegs Crutch looks unique!

 

mobility aids

Intelligent Design

So that’s the end of our list of trendy mobility aids. We’ve had a variety of styles, designs and prices in there. From Omhu to Glam Sticks – hopefully there should be something for everyone in there!

If you know of any other trendy mobility aids on the market please get in touch with BlueBadgeStyle or leave a comment below

This post first appeared on BlueBadgeStyle.com

Once you have your cool crutch or glam walking stick you may also be interested in this neat gadget for holding sticks or crutches together. Check out this post on the Bridgit Crutch Holder

UPDATE : Strictly Judge shows off diamante encrusted crutches

BBC Strictly Come Dancing fans may have spotted judge Craig Revel Horwood with some glitzy crutches, apparently they are actually diamante encrusted.  He had major hip surgery and rehabilitation therapy at King Edward VII Hospital in London.

 

Crutches made cool: Craig dazzled with diamante encrusted crutch on Monday night's 'It Takes Two' with Zoe BallIce Cool Crutches: the diamante encrusted crutch showed off by Craig on ‘It Takes Two’ with Zoe Ball

 

Razzle Dazzle: Craig is attempting to transform the image of the humble crutch with his diamante number Craig is not the only person who wants to be seen with some stylish crutches. Copyright images : BBC

 

Craig Revel Gorgeous: The Strictly judge proudly showed off his new accessory on Sunday night's show

 

Toilet seat transfers made easy AXS Wingman

Is this the best design for toilet seat transfers in the world?

Comfort and Safety in the Bathroom

Update: AXS Wingman in the running for a Mission Main Street Grant

Before reading about this fantastic product we wanted to let you know that it’s in the running for a potentially life-changing grant. The AXS Wingman is in the final running for a Chase Mission Main Street Grant where they will be awarded $250,000. The company has big plans for this kind of money and believe it will help them take the product to a larger scale – allowing it to be rolled out further afield. As a unique inclusive toilet seat design it is the kind of product the world genuinely needs. The more funding they can get the better and we’re supporting their drive for votes. You can cast your vote for them here and voting is open until November 15th.

What is a Mission Main Street Grant?

A Mission Main Street is a grant programme which sees 12 small businesses in America given a grant of $250,000. The final grant winners are decided over December and in January 2014 all winners will be notified.

To apply for the grant businesses have to be for profit and the business also has to have been actively engaged in the current business activity for a minimum of two years to the Launch Date of the program.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for AXS Wingman and you can find out more about the company below.

The AXS Wingman, A Safe Inclusive Toilet Seat

Wheelchair users who regularly do toilet seat transfers will know what a problem this can be. We were really pleased to discover this new brilliant design from the US.  It is a toilet seat with a difference, there are supports built in to the seat which make transferring from the wheelchair to the toilet much easier and safer.  The name ‘Wingman’ gives you some idea as to how it works.  It has wings!  These ‘wings’ mean that you have quite literally something to hold on to and lean on when you’re hauling yourself onto the toilet.

To see just the transfer click below:

Super strong AXS Wingman toilet seat

Support on all sides for safer use with the AXS Wingman

Installing the super strong toilet seat

The Wingman can be fitted on any standard toilet in place of a normal seat  so you won’t need any special fitting equipment which will cost you extra.  No hidden costs at all.  This is a very simple, effective design that installs with a minimum of fuss and with maximum benefit to people needed to transfer.

Using a transfer wheelchair toilet seat

People who use a wheelchair regularly know how hard it is raise and lower yourself onto a standard toilet seat.  There’s not much to hold on to and it’s not great having to hook your hands around a wobbly toilet seat, especially if the toilet you’re using is in a public place.  It’s just not very hygienic to put your hands so close to the toilet bowl.  The AXS Wingman is perfect because you don’t have to put your hands as close to the actual bowl of the toilet itself, much nicer to use. The surface of the Wingman is made from material which is easier to grip and has “smoothly integrated palming surfaces”  as it’s designer describes them. This is a very well thought out bit of equipment.

Easy and safe toilet transfers

With the Wingman you can lean and hold onto the wings and at the front of the seat without worrying about breaking the seat, and for added stability too.  Twisting your body and leaning to either side isn’t such a worry, because you have something sturdy to hold on to.

 

Bariatric toilet seat transfers

The AXS Wingman wing can take the weight of 767lbs, it is a very strong toilet seat!

When you lift yourself from your chair, you can easily hold onto one or both of the wings or the shaped front of the seat and hoist yourself onto the toilet.  No more worrying about breaking the seat or falling whilst transferring.  The surface of the Wingman is made from material which is easier to grip onto as well, so this is a very well thought out bit of equipment.

 

 

Durability – a very strong toilet seat

Traditional toilet seats can end up breaking over time because of the pressures put on them.  The AXS Wingman has been tried and tested so you know you can trust it to support you even after a lot of use. If you have a wall bar in your bathroom, it makes using this toilet seat even easier as you have even more handholds. You can use this seat in whatever way you find most comfortable for you.

Designed for a need

The AXS wingman was created by inventer Stephen Cowen who saw that his 87 year old father was struggling with a traditional seat. It is being made in small batches at the moment. Seats produced are going into ‘Case and Pilot studies’.  When installing a public toilet, architects should be thinking of installing a toilet that is easiest for anyone to use, particularly in a disabled toilet. For wheelchair accessible toilets in shop or an office, this design should be added to the budget.

Unfortunately it isn’t available in the UK. As soon as it is we will let you know. The best way to keep in touch with them is via the Wingman Google + page. or via twitter @axswingman

 

Until the Wingman is available there are  a range of seat raisers and rails available here .