It is estimated that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects 20 million people worldwide with three million in Europe alone. World Arthritis Day on 12 October 2007, marked the launch of the B Me initiative, funded by Roche, as part of Roche's long-term commitment to raise awareness and understanding of RA and help people with this chronic condition to live life as independently as possible.
Good design is key to quality of life for people with RA. The Helen Hamlyn Centre was invited to organise a Challenge workshop in London involving teams of designers, healthcare professionals and people with RA from France, Spain, Italy and Greece. The aim was to create innovative solutions that will be useful and appealing to all consumers while supporting the independence of people with RA.
The three-day workshop generated 18 realised design. Nine of these were selected for further development and display at EULAR 2008, the European League against Rheumatism conference in Paris in June 2008. You can vote for your favourite B Me project here.
The workshop was filmed for a documentary on the B Me initiative by the film maker Marie Lenclos, a former Helen Hamlyn Centre Research Associate and can be viewed here.
“The process of getting people who have RA together with designers is a fantastic opportunity. It creates designs that help integrate people back into mainstream society, rather than simply addressing a medical problem. Through the involvement of people living with a disease like RA, co- developing inclusive design solutions and sharing self-invented ways to help ease everyday activities, ultimately, we hope that quality of life can be improved.”
Robert Johnstone, President of Arthritis and Rheumatism International (PARE).
“I see people of all ages who are affected by RA - not just the elderly - who tell me that fastening buttons, getting in and out of chairs and working in the kitchen is incredibly difficult, and it doesn’t have to be that way. We have come on in leaps and bounds in terms of treatment – with innovative biologics on the market now providing new options. If we can support patients with innovative designs and share their own coping methods that support independence in a non-stigmatised way – we are heading in the right direction”.
Dr Shouvik Dass, University of Leeds