Wednesday 15 February 2017 – lunchtime seminar with Dr Alaster Yoxall (Design Futures, SHU)

Image of opening single portion packaging

Speaker: Dr Alaster Yoxall (Principle Research Fellow in Human Centred Engineering, Design Futures)
Title: “The Good The Bad and the Ugly”: Understanding the role of single portion packaging and nutrition in a hospital environment

Alaster has been involved in the ‘Inclusive Design’ of packaging for a little over 10 years and has presented work in Australia, Thailand, Germany, The Netherlands and The USA. The main thrust of the research has been the development of techniques and methods for assessing user abilities when accessing packaging and the subsequent knowledge transfer to industry and standards organisations to facilitate more usable packaging for older and disabled users. This has included working directly with companies to design new, more ‘inclusive packaging’ and being the UK technical expert on CEN and ISO committees for guidelines on accessible packaging and panel test methods.

Cheese, biscuits, milk, jam, juices, cereals and condiments are often typical items served in single portion packaging in hospitals. Packaged food has many roles and advantages for example; provide access to and preserve the contents, control portion size, be stored easily especially where storage space is limited. Work by researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia identified that 40% of patients in their study were unable to open some of the packaging they were presented with on a typical meal tray. A similar proportion of were staff also unable to open some of the packaging.
Researchers identified unopened packaging as a possible source of malnutrition in older people whilst staying in hospital. Issues regarding unopened packing and malnutrition have also been identified in the UK. An initial study was undertaken testing the packaging as per Annex D of the international standard ISO17480 ‘ Guidelines for Accessible Packaging’. This found that 45% of the eleven, packs tested could not be opened, whilst a further 18% failed because of a low satisfaction score. That is a staggering 63% of the packaging tested would fail the standard is likely to be un-openable by a proportion of hospital patients. This presentation discuss the results of those tests and highlights the issues around the design of single portion packaging and looks at future developments.

Alaster Yoxall is developing design methodologies for ‘openability’ of packaging based on the concept of ‘inclusive design’, i.e. designing for the least able bodied and hence developing packaging that can be used by the broadest spectrum of society. He has been involved in the development of both ISO and CEN standards on pack accessibility. Other projects include developing models for fruit damage, measuring grip strength and the design of assistive technology for improved nutrition.

1.00PM – 2.00PM
9137 Cantor


See here for details of other seminars in the series.

All SHU staff and students are welcome to attend the C3RI Lunchtime Research Seminars. If you are from outside of the University and would like to attend a seminar, please email C3RI Administrator to arrange entry.