Peter Dale from South EastEngland Forum on Ageing (SEEFA) was one of our Designing for the Future judges this year and Philippa was delighted to be asked by him to join the AGE UK and SEEFA Policy Panel on Later Life and Ageing at the stunning Royal Air Force Club in London in November.
SEEFA and Age UK have joined forces with the aim of bringing people together to influence later life strategies, policies and services in order to make life better for the current and future generations of older people. The focus of discussion was on what businesses need to be doing to support this.
The panel also included Leela Damodaran, Professor of Digital Inclusion and Participation at Loughborough University and fashion entrepreneur Katie Ellis from The Able Label. Contributing and driving questions were a diverse group of some thirty women and men over fifty-five, representing members of the older population.
Philippa spoke about the benefits of good design in business and how the Designing for the Future project aims to create an age friendly future working with students at the University of Brighton and the College of Richard Collyers, to create products and services that assist and celebrate later life.
Joining Philippa was DFF winner, Tom Meades who presented his Virtual Reality dementia project.
Katie introduced The Able Label which specialises in fashionable, non-stigmatising adaptive clothing. She discussed the importance of working at the design stage with healthcare professionals and potential customers. She also emphasised how crucial customer service is particularly for older customers. The Able Label recognise that customers shop in different ways so offer a multi-channel approach – online, by phone, by mail order or through one of their local stockists.
The discussion identified certain key qualities which older people wanted from businesses including:
- The ability to exercise choice to feel less disadvantaged.
- Good design – ‘down with drab’ and ‘no more beige’.
- Better availability through mainstream retailers.
- Good customer service wanting to speak to real people, have staff who know the product well enough to help find items for their specific needs and have a culture of respect with staff happy to help. John Lewis was highlighted as being strong for this.
- No more ageist adverts like the Spec Savers advert that generalise older people.
- Lifelong education being supported as products and services evolve and change.
There will be follow up discussions homing in on key areas before the group present suggestions for improvement to a symposium at the House of Lords next year.