Three children playing with toys

Reducing extra costs: our projects

In honour of International Day of People with Disabilities, the last Foresight and Innovation blog focused on how technology can benefit disabled people. We had some great responses to this theme and some of our students at Scope’s Beaumont FE college in Lancaster shared their thoughts on what difference technology has made to their lives.  This week, building on this theme, we are looking at products and services more generally and are asking what factors are most important to disabled people and their families when selecting a product, service or brand?

One of Scope’s priorities and themes is financial well-being. Our report Priced Out has revealed that disabled people spend £550 per month more on average on day to day items relating to their disability which is a big issue for disabled people, and so we have established an independent Extra Costs Commission to investigate the causes of these costs and identify effective ways to reduce them.

What are we doing?

Here in the Innovation Unit the problem of disability related costs has captured our imagination and we’ve set up ‘Project Thrifty’ to explore ways that Scope might practically help reduce these extra costs, perhaps by providing opportunities to people share their tips for lower cost alternatives through our digital community, brokering discounts on popular products, or potentially negotiating bulk purchasing opportunities.

We have also been developing a relationship with IKEA to see how their existing low cost homewares range could better meet disabled people’s needs. We had a great response to our survey, and initial research shows that some parents of disabled children are already using IKEA products in interesting ways. One mum on the Scope forum told us she has adapted an IKEA plant stand on wheels for use as a feeding pump holder for her child. It’s a fraction of the cost of the hospital version, and looks much nicer!

A few weeks ago we held a focus group with parents of disabled children, in the IKEA store in Wembley, North London. Within five minutes the group were talking about sawing the legs off children’s beds, adapting inflatable changing mats for use as play mats, and by the end they’d practically designed a whole new system for ensuring plates and cups don’t get knocked off the dinner table! Last week we held a focus group with adults and older disabled people who were equally creative in thinking about how homewares could be improved to better meet their needs. One of our favourites was an idea to create pull out surfaces at different levels in the kitchen to make it easier for wheelchair users to prepare food and rest hot pans or plates while they moved around the kitchen. The energy and creativity was astonishing and we have some great insight to share with IKEA when we meet them again this week.

Get in touch!

We’d love to hear your own views and experiences, to help us find ways to reduce the cost of living for disabled people and their families. In particular we’d like to hear about whether or not you use the internet to shop online, and what your thoughts are around this area.

Have a look at our questions about your experience of online shopping on our forum, and share your stories with us.