Transforming the nursing home experience through meal planning.
UX, UI, Prototyping
Nursing homes aim to serve the elderly but in terms of nutrition, the problem of skipping meals is still present due to bland, routine food.
What We Did
Created a co-designing experience for caretakers and seniors to help them plan their meals and ensure their best nutritional health.
The Design Challenge
How might I design a system that would ensure good nutritional health in seniors?
Approximately 20% of nursing home residents suffer some form of malnutrition. Furthermore, wrong orders in nursing homes can be fatal because of a senior individual’s allergy. Seniors need to be on a meal plan in which they participate in the planning and their preferences are taken into account.
Designed for iOS because of the simplicity of many iOS apps and the simple learning curve many users rate iOS design for, this is where Vital comes in: a system where caretakers can track their assigned patients’ nutritional health, build personal connections with patients through meal planning, as well as ease any worries a patients’ family members may have by sending regular reports. All in order to make sure seniors have good nutritional health in their old ages.
Some of Vital's Solutions
☞ Tracking nutritional health & visually displaying data for caretaker to understand
☞ User is assigned patients every day, establishing a familiarity with certain patients and allowing them to build relationships during meal planning
☞ Meal planning section allows patient to build relationship with caretaker, improving mood and at the same time appetite.
☞ Rating system allows seniors to choose favourite meals or ingredients, making the process of meal planning simpler as the app is used more.
☞ Vital info is displayed such as seat number in the dining room, allergies, any current medical conditions or ailments and suggestions in how to alleviate.
Assigned the topic of meal planning, the market was over saturated with similar functioning apps; how could I set my app apart from the rest? After multiple brainstorm sessions, I came across the question: What type of user relies on meal planning? I came to two conclusions: children, to ensure their nutritional health as their bodies grow and develop, and seniors, to ensure their nutritional health in their old ages as their bodies begin to slow down. Having experienced the effects of bad nutritional health in the elderly second-hand through my grandmother and father, I chose seniors as my target audience.
After solidifying the concept of Vital, I began visualizing it through wireframing in my sketchbook, keeping in mind the differences in designing an interface for the elderly. Finalizing my idea, I needed to organize my user scenarios to understand the flow one would go through when using the app. Through my research, it still rang true that the elderly patient would remain the focus through both user scenarios, so I organized them into a flow chart.
Working on this project during the college strike really taught me how to discipline myself with the limited input from my professors and peers, and despite that I'm glad I persevered.
With such a specific audience, this project really allowed me to focus my design. All the design choices were to serve the user rather than myself, which is something I am still working on. All the features for this app kept on growing and growing as I continued to work, but I knew I had to stop myself somewhere, and in the end, I am proud of this first attempt at a product design. Looking back, there are definitely some visual aspects and features I would fix, but going through this project, learning how to focus on a target audience, realizing the importance of nutritional health and its effects on other aspects of one’s health, I’m only more excited to work on the next project.
☞ Designing for others is key. It's easy to solve problems for issues you face, but having empathy for others and getting passionate about their problems drives a great and far more interesting project.
☞ Know the scope. Feature creep is real, step back and understand what you need to focus on.
☞ Your diet is actually important. I learned a lot about meal planning and the specific diets one needs during certain ages in their lives.