Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Rica news

The latest news from Rica

Here's our latest news, including recent press releases, with the newest stories at the top. Read our December 2017 newsletter

Rate it! Rica's product reviews by and for disabled people

We recently carried out a  survey  about people's experiences of online product reviews and how best to make the reviews relevant, accessible and inclusive. Thank you to the 400 people that took part and we're pleased to announce that we awarded the Prize of the £50 shopping voucher to Mr Anonymous in Liverpool!

We've called the reviews project Rate it! and we’ll be working with partners including Laura Horton from Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living (LCIL) and Denise Stephens from Enabled by Design, with input and advice from the organisation Which?.

The Rate it! project will develop an online product review website for disabled consumers. It’s been awarded funding from the DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme, a five-year scheme led by disabled people and funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Read the DRILL press release

Primary driving controls research

In January 2017, Rica held two workshops with new users of driving controls at QEF Mobility Services, Carshalton, Surrey. The resulting findings are presented in a research report, intended for professionals advising disabled people on their motoring choices. It also has useful comments and advice from other disabled drivers:
Go to Primary driving controls research report, 2017 (PDF) here.

Rica appoints Jon Quinn as Chief Executive

Rica (the Research Institute for Consumer Affairs), the consumer champion for older and disabled people, has appointed Jon Quinn as its Chief Executive. He joins Rica in April from Shelter, most recently as their Head of Campaigns, having previously worked with the Conservative party at a local, regional and national level, becoming Head of Campaign Literature at CCHQ.

Dr Phil Friend, OBE, Chair of the Rica board of trustees, said: “We are delighted that Jon is joining us at such a crucial point in our journey. He has all the skills and experience we need to move the organisation forward. Rica is determined to substantially expand its work as the consumer champion for older and disabled people, and Jon will help to ensure that we deliver this ambitious objective.”

Jon Quinn said: “I am tremendously excited and honoured to accept the role as Chief Executive at Rica. I look forward to working with the trustees and the team to take the organisation to the next level, growing the charity’s research and promoting its work to a greater number of older and disabled people.”

Find out more about the Rica team here

Do services work for older and disabled consumers?

Consumer group sets the scene for more dementia-friendly RSC performances

Members of DEEP Dementia Friends group at RSC performance with Rica researchersPerformances with more intervals and clearer, better-positioned signage could make visits to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST), Stratford-upon-Avon, even more enjoyable for people living with dementia, a local group has told Rica researchers. The group, eight members of the Redditch and Bromsgrove Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP) group called ‘Friends Together’, all have Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. They range in age from the late 50s to the early 70s.

The research took the form of a visit to a relaxed performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the RST, Stratford-upon-Avon, by eight members of ‘Friends Together’ and five of their friends and partners. The group's suggestions can be applied to many kinds of performances, not just to Shakespeare plays in the theatre.

Read the report here

Find out more about our dementia research here

What stops wheelchair users from getting active?

Tracey Proudfoot (left) and Suzanne Edwards, winners at the Tennis Foundation Wheelchair Tennis Development Series
Wheelchair tennis medallists Tracey Proudlock and Suzanne Edwards

There is a clear need for sports providers to offer more local sport and physical activity opportunities which are accessible for wheelchair users, new research from Rica reveals.

The findings (published on 19 October, 2016) in a report carried out for WheelPower - British Wheelchair Sport, aim to support providers and sports bodies in planning and delivering their activities to better meet the needs of wheelchair users.

WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, commissioned Rica to carry out a national survey into wheelchair users’ participation in sport and physical activity. The report, Talk About Taking Part, includes responses from both wheelchair users who lead an active lifestyle and those who don’t currently take part in any form of sport or physical activity.

The report highlights:  

  • A lack of suitable opportunities was the top barrier for wheelchair users (44 per cent of respondents).
  • Too few accessible venues came a close second (39 per cent).
  • The cost of specialist equipment often needed by wheelchair users to take part in sport is also a significant barrier.
  • Nearly three quarters (74 per cent) said they would like to be more active in the future. 
  • Just over half of survey respondents (54 per cent) travel for more than 30 minutes to take part in sport or physical activity. 
  • Travelling distance can be a barrier for nearly a third (29 per cent), which shows a clear need for more local provision of suitable sporting opportunities.  

The report also highlights key survey findings about current participation trends, motivations and barriers to being active, as well as the sports and activities wheelchair users currently take part in, and what they would like to do more of in the future.

Organisations such as national governing bodies of sport, county sports partnerships, and local sports providers should particularly benefit from these findings to support them to improve their activity offers for wheelchair users.

Read the full story here

Read the research report here

Future-proof your products: inclusive design and smart appliances for consumers

Inclusive design and smart technology for household appliances have the potential to boost the independence of older people and those with sight loss and other disabilities, new research by Rica suggests.

The Access Card - the UK's first ID card for disabled people

Martin Austin, Managing Director of Nimbus Disability, talks about how and why the Access Card was developed.

Kent 'mystery shoppers' help make Huguenot Museum more dementia friendly

Clearer directions and signage, avoiding information overload and providing dedicated headphones could all make the experience of visiting Rochester’s Huguenot Museum an even more enjoyable place to visit for people who have dementia, local mystery shoppers say in a new report by research charity Rica.

The shoppers, members of the Kent-based Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP) group Memorybilia, are all people living with dementia and range in age from the mid-50s to the late 60s. They visited the Huguenot Museum ‘anonymously’ in October 2015 as part of its ongoing drive to ensure that its galleries and events are accessible to as many people as possible.

Read the press release here

Read the research report here

Dementia research

Rica is working with Innovations in Dementia to launch a research resource which involves people dementia in local and national consumer research, providing feedback and insight on products, services and environments. Read more here

Rica on BBC Radio 4's 'In Touch' programme

Rica's Chris Lofthouse was on BBC Radio 4's 'In Touch' programme on Tuesday, 27 October 2015, talking about the Hive Active Heating 2 smart thermostat (see below). Our consumer panel's recommendations were taken up by British Gas in designing this new interactive heating control. Listen to the whole programme via the BBC website here.

Consumer charity gives new British Gas’ Hive Active Heating 2 control top marks for inclusive design

Hive ThermostatThe new Hive Active Heating 2 smart thermostat is a ‘game changer’, says specialist research charity Rica. As part of the product’s design process, British Gas worked with Rica to independently test Hive Active Heating 2 and its full range of new heating controls with older and disabled consumers.

Rica is delighted that the interactive heating control’s design incorporates many suggestions made by their consumer testing panel, including improved colour contrast on the display.

Read the Rica Hive 2 Press release



Disabled rail travellers report on Passenger Assist scheme

On the whole, disabled passengers have a good experience of booking travel assistance, a new Rica study has found. However, when assistance goes wrong, it causes serious difficulties for passengers.

Woman in wheelchair on train with rampThe Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) asked Rica to carry out a two-year study to establish levels of satisfaction with their booked Passenger Assist service and to track possible changes over time.

Passengers reported on all aspects of their journey from booking to leaving their destination station, evaluating the usefulness and accessibility of each stage of the journey.

Rica's findings at the end of the first year include:

  • Passengers are largely satisfied with booking, but
  • In 12% of journeys the passenger did not receive a booking confirmation
  • Passengers find it easy to find information on routes and times (84%), but less so on facilities (68%) and accessibility (65%)
  • On 90% of journeys the passenger received all or some of the assistance they had booked
  • Assistance getting on to the train was mostly provided when it was needed (92% of journeys); assistance to the seat less so (77%)
  • Help getting off the train was provided on only 78% of journeys
  • Where a ramp was needed this was provided on 93% of journeys
  • Staff behaviour was rated highly. Booking staff received 80% satisfaction rating, station staff 70% and on train staff 60%
  • A total of 69% of journeys were rated as good or very good
  • On 59% of journeys passengers felt confident or very confident
  • Older passengers are less likely to feel confident, as are passengers with learning disabilities.

Read Rica's report on the first year's research into Passenger Assist here.

See Rica's full list of research reports here.

Last updated: December 2018

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