Specialist manufacturers need to take a bite out of the Apple

Assistive technology manufacturers are being urged to adopt an ‘Apple approach’ if their products are to continue to enable end user independence, one of the UK’s leading Occupational Therapist has remarked.

Kate Sheehan, who works alongside Repose Furniture as the company’s resident Occupational Therapist, made the comment as specialist manufacturers continue to battle the stigma attached to assistive technologies. In response, Kate is urging specialist manufacturers to apply similar practices to product development, as those used by Apple Inc.

According to Kate, as technology continues to evolve, specialist manufacturers must focus on developing products which are intuitive to the needs of the user, whilst also delivering products that are easy to use, an ethos which has long been championed by technology giant, Apple.

On the topic of using Apple as a shining example of product development, Kate commented: "In order to remove the stigma that is still attached to specialist equipment and assistive technology, manufacturers need to empower collaboration. Whether that be by engaging with other manufacturers, healthcare professionals or end users, focusing on research and development is key to successfully leveraging technology, ensuring that manufacturers continue to create products which are client friendly, and most importantly, enable, rather than disable users.

"Take a look at Apple, they continually focus on creating products which are intuitive. But they also move beyond this, delivering products which are easy to use, and which customers genuinely want to use. It is this ethos we now need to transcend across to specialist manufacturers. Over time customer’s needs change, and so it is important specialist devices remain responsive. Adopting an approach similar to Apple, and continually investing in research and development is key to this.”

As an Occupational Therapist specialising in home adaptations, Kate is a firm advocate of the powerful role specialist equipment holds in enabling end users, a passion which has also proved instrumental in her role with Repose.

Working alongside Kate, Repose is already exploring the ways it can continue to develop seating solutions which deliver features and benefits to enable users. In addition, the company recently unveiled its own series of CPD events for suppliers and distributors, delivered by Kate, which will ensure that the company’s distributor network is well equipped to offer seating solutions which best meet the needs of the user.

Repose Managing Director Lisa Wardley explained: "As user needs change, it is vital that specialist manufacturers respond to these changes; and while technology is at the heart of this, it doesn’t need to be huge changes. At Repose, we have taken this ethos and applied it across our entire healthcare range, providing seating solutions which not only ensure the user is supported correctly, but which also assist the user to stand. Taking this further, we are now also able to offer seating in a fabric which matches existing furniture. These are just some of the ways we are working with Kate to challenge the negative stigma attached to assistive technologies.”