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Redesigning Pendant Alarms for the 21st Century

2019-09-24

Why should older people have to wear a big red button that doesn't even work outside their home? Personal Alarms were invented in the early 1980's and to be honest, haven't really changed since. We set out to change that.

Watch this short film about the early days of Personal Alarm Watch. It shows the design process we used to make an emergency alarm that older people really want.

We hope you enjoy it,

Ewan and Adi

To find out more about the best personal alarm for the elderly click here.

Video Transcription Below

Ewan: A core ethos I think that we have is that older people want exactly the same things as everyone else in the world. That is, having choice and having power. Too often that is taken away from them.

Adi: I studied Engineering at University and knew that I wanted to go and start my own thing. I was working on a lot of different ideas and I didn’t care about them that much. I started thinking about problems I could solve that could make a big difference. With my family, I'm very close to my grandparents and that played a big part in me starting to look at ideas in this space. Ewan was doing the same and so we very naturally started working together.

Ewan: I knew I wanted to start a social enterprise. I didn’t have the money to do that without having a job so I moved in with my grandparents. They just had hundreds of different problems that I think technology could make a really big difference to. My gran, she had a pendant and when she had a fall she broke her hip and she never pressed it. The fact that we are focusing on problems around that is really important to me personally.

Ewan: A big part of being a social entrepreneur is having an unrealistic belief that you can make the world a better place. So, I thought I would talk a little bit about our process, how we work and why it is important to always listen to your customers because it’s working with people that as to how we make a better product.

Ewan: The UK is very bureaucratic and very complex. Which is absolutely fine if you are a huge company but when theres just two of you and you are just starting out, it’s really really difficult. So having commissioners in the room and being able to talk to them about how you would implement something like this is incredibly important.

Ian (Commissioner for Health and Social Care, Devon County Council): Devon is a big county isn’t it. We’ve got hundreds of providers and thats a lot of people to connect with so I’m really interested in how we can find their way to market. Ewan, who was talking to us about the wristwatch, I’ve already given him the contact details for our technology leads in Devon. A lot of what they need isn’t money from us necessarily it’s making the right routes through to the right people.

Ewan: For the last six years we ran a company that did video calling on the TV. Throughout that whole process, we kept seeing people with Pendant Alarms who would hang them up on the back of doors or put them in draws. They clearly saw the benefits of having something like that they just didn’t really like the way it was done currently. So we came up with the Personal Alarm Watch. It’s a normal watch but if you hold the button down it will make a call through to our monitoring centre and they can get you the help you need. We want as much feedback as we can possibly get and you can really help steer the direction of what we build.

Elizabeth: When you live alone, it’s a comfort to feel you can get help if you need it. So the new one I think will be a big advantage, I really do.

Dave: It was a really good day. A lot of the ideas they are putting into the watches are brilliant. And to come and actually to people that have suffered disability is just a super idea.

Elizabeth: It seems that sometimes I don’t feel that I have a real purpose so when I get asked my opinion it’s very exciting really. I think ooh I do have a purpose after all. This is grand!

Tim: The fact that you have these meetings it’s a wonderful way of researching.

Adi: Today was great, we learnt a lot! Everyone was really helpful. We had five different designs that we were considering and we got some clear outcomes. I’m so exciting that we can finally change something that has been an institution for over 30 years. It’s been such a bad product, people unanimously dislike it and no-one has made a better one! We are finally giving elderly people a personal alarm that they actually want!

To find out more about our personal alarm designed for the elderly click here.