Blackwood residents test ground-breaking cushion for wheelchair users
Residents at a Glasgow care home have been among some of the first to try out and provide invaluable feedback on a unique and innovative invention for wheelchair users.
Blackwood’s Belses Gardens care home, which provides integrated accommodation for people with physical disabilities, hosted a focus group with designer Corien Staels, in which residents were invited to test her temperature-cooling wheelchair cushion, named Wheelair®.
Belgian native Corien, who is currently working on an Entrepreneurship Masters at the University of Glasgow, spoke of how she had the idea for the cushion design when writing her undergraduate dissertation.
Corien said: “The idea was sparked from a conversation with my course supervisor, who is a wheelchair user, which opened my eyes to the temperature problems faced by those in wheelchairs and the lack of products available to control this.
“My Wheelair® design allows the user to better regulate their body temperature through airflow which removes the heat and moisture that builds up behind the back, and therefore cools them down while simultaneously increasing their comfort.”
The residents at Blackwood’s Belses Gardens care home were eager to try out the cushion and were able to offer plenty of essential feedback for Corien, such as their preferred colour and type of material and any possible improvements.
Corien added: “Co-creation, making products alongside others, is very important to me and it was fantastic to hear the Blackwood residents’ input.
“I’m not in a wheelchair myself so I don’t know what works best and without the advice from those who will eventually be using the products, my design cannot benefit them.
“Being at Belses Gardens and talking to the varied group of residents helped me think ahead on how I can better solve the user’s needs with my products and also gave me many ideas for future projects.”
Paul Richoux, social media co-ordinator at Blackwood, said: “The residents all had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the session.
“One of our residents, Valerie, said the cooling cushion was a great invention and she’d definitely like to have one if she can one day.
“We are so thrilled with the positive response the cushion received and wish Corien all the best for the future of her fantastic invention, which our residents are already keen to get their hands on.”
After finishing her dissertation, Corien plans to fully focus on the product design. She has been awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh Fellowship, which will allow her to work full-time on the business from September onwards, while receiving valuable mentorship and support.
Her ultimate goal is to get the Wheelair® cushion to the stage where it will be offered on the NHS.