The aim of this instructional design project was to create an instructional tool for seniors to use before and after they underwent cataract surgery. There are three medicinal eye drops that patients must take pre- and post-surgery, but the doses and combinations of the drops change depending on what week it is in relation to the cataract surgery. This problem can be compounded by the potential of weaker eyesight and forgetfulness when the patient is an older adult. The instructional tool that was to be designed needed to be understandable, simple and clear so that any older patient – regardless of eyesight or memory – would be able to understand the directions it was providing.
In order to create a prototype that completed the intended objective, I needed to speak with the older adults that would be the primary audience using the prototype, as well as subject matter experts that were familiar with instructing seniors in a medical capacity. A previous visit to the Kerby Centre allowed me to discuss what forms and mediums of design were effective or ineffective for both parties.
A common theme soon emerged from this research: older adults desired instructional artifacts that were based on something they were already familiar with in their day-to-day lives. The effectiveness of the design piece was amplified when this familiar concept was something they actually enjoyed or liked. This knowledge allowed me to put myself into the user’s shoes and begin to form ideas from a human-centered perspective.
It was important to keep in mind what I had learned as I began to ideate solutions to this issue. The optimal prototype had to be something that didn’t overwhelm the user, was easy to read and remember and was something that elderly patients liked and were familiar with. I was originally drawn to creating a digital app prototype, where reminders to take the eye drop medications were automatically created.
After some deliberation, I decided not to pursue this direction for two reasons: some seniors are not comfortable with technology or don’t have access to it, and a digital app on a phone is quite private for the person using it – meaning the elderly patient’s family or friends would have a much harder time confirming if the drops were being taken at the right time and with the correct dosage. Because of this, I decided to make a large, physical printed prototype that could be displayed on the patient’s table or fridge for ease of use.
The final design I created was a prototype based off a bingo card. Bingo is often present in senior residence homes, and many seniors who still live independently also enjoy going to bingo halls. I chose to play off the feeling and familiarity of bingo to create a medication-tracking card that mimics the steps of bingo.
The bingo card is vertically divided into the time segments before and after the surgery when medication is taken – both before and after surgery – and is horizontally divided into the four times of day the user would take their medications – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Bedtime. Similar to bingo, the user navigates this grid depending on what week of medication and time of day they are on. Each bingo square contains the type and amount of eye drops needed at that time. Once the user instills all of the drops in their square, they would then use the provided “bingo dauber” to dab the square to show the correct amount of eye drops have been instilled.
This simple way of tracking serves as a reminder for the user to take their medications, gives them visible confirmation that they have taken the correct type and amount of medication and also shows physicians and family members or caregivers the patient has been following the recovery procedure.
In an ideal world, this prototype would also involve a tangible reward or compensation at the end of the cycle of medication. If all squares were checked off, the patient would then present it back to their physician during a follow-up appointment and be presented with a free entry to a bingo night at a participating casino or bingo hall.