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The Future of Care Home Dining | Connect. Enhance. Monitor

  • Cover render of the omnom. service product system for the future of carehome dining.

  • Showcase of user flow, 1:1 prototype testing of user flow, & spoon texture, scoop & feeding demo.

    Showcase of user flow, 1:1 prototype testing of user flow, & spoon texture, scoop & feeding demo.

  • A snapshot of the research process, insight, and outcome.

  • An overview of the omnom. product family members & their roles.

  • Images of selected spoon and neckpiece prototypes. Image from sensor tech testing and exploration.

  • Selected process sketched of spoon, neckpiece, tray, and trolley.

What it does

omnom. is a smart dining service & product system tailored to fit the future care home. It connects stakeholders in the care home system through data digitization, enhances interaction quality through design & increases safety through performance monitoring.

Your inspiration

Increasing cases of care home elderly abuse over the past few years made me question whether the problem lies in the individual or in the care system. A key cause of abuse is caregiver burnout and in Hong Kong's case, this issue is only escalating with the rapidly aging population and the lack of young staff resources. The intention of this project is to identify the bottleneck task that is inflicting the highest cognitive loading, occupying most staff, and exposing residents to safety hazards to optimize the work efficiency of existing staff while maximizing the quality of care through design and technological intervention.

How it works

The tray consists of 3 scales (main, nutrition 1&2) & an NFC sensor. It acts as an ID anchor for data collected by the tray & the paired neckpiece. The digitized performance data are uploaded to the cloud, processed & presented to stakeholders via the app. The trolley acts as a medium of delivery, information display for the tray's scale (to lighten tech load on the tray), storage, & charging station for the products. The neckpiece adopts technology in research stage into a daily context. Instead of using IASUS throat mic in one-off tests, it is applied to monitor-for-prevention, long-term performance tracking, & meal-time alert system. The spoon for residents suffering from dysphagia includes both soft & hard materials. The hole allows opportunity for active food intake for those with limited capabilities. When patients suck on the spoon, forming a vacuum in the mouth, the pureed food oozes over the soft material to allow slow but more engaging feeding.

Design process

In the early stages, the spoon was tasked to fulfill the criteria of 'experience elevation'. The first prototype was intended to replicate 'texture', however, creating a 'chewable' spoon means a longer 'pause' in each resident's mouth when feeding. This made me realize that a balance has to be achieved between experience elevating & workload for caregivers. This 'mistake' helped steer me towards the final design that enhances engagement while allowing a smoother feeding service flow for the caregiver. The neckpiece had also gone through multiple versions starting from a larger size tech piece & bib two-piece product to the final lightweight wearable design. In the initial service system proposal, the tech piece in the two-piece was intended as an ID anchor that could be mounted on the tray (as a name tag) and on the neckpiece (as the sensor), however, after multiple expert interviews the option was ruled out due to its overwhelming complexity. This was one of the greatest challenges as correcting this meant redefining the entire service system. As seen in the final design, this challenge was tackled by relocating the task of 'id anchor' to the tray.

How it is different

Digitizing health data is becoming a trend, however, it is often limited to 'typical' quantifiable data like heart rate, blood pressure and etc. Services or performances that are more about quality, interaction, & serving, like dining, are yet to be tackled. Tackling the issue at a product & service system level is not commonly seen at a care home facility level. Often time products are purchased independently of one another. In the case of a product-service system, it is a 1+1>2 situation where products work independently yet as a whole they provide an elevated level of value. By digitizing data, not only are we building better communication across all stakeholders through higher transparency but we are also allowing time originally dedicated to manual recording to quality interaction with residents. Furthermore, these digitized data allow better service, meal plans, and therapy personalization without overburdening frontline caregivers.

Future plans

There are several things that I would like to achieve in the near future. The most immediate goal is to perform more field tests in care homes as soon as COVID visitation protocols are lifted in care home facilities. In the distant future, after combing through technological details and consulting professionals through hands-on workshops, I hope to be able to apply the system into a care home facility on a small scale to test out the feasibility of omnom. as a solution for the future of care home dining.


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