Introducing: Jelly Drops

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Jelly Drops are hydrating treats for people with dementia. They were developed by Design and Engineering postgraduate student Lewis Hornby in response to his grandmother's struggle with dehydration. Jelly Drops are set to be available for sale in 2019.

Lewis was made aware of the issue of dehydration amongst people with dementia after a near fatal situation that resulted in his grandmother being hospitalised. Fortunately after 24 hours on IV fluids she made a full recovery and is still enjoying a good quality of life to this day. The experience highlighted how hydration can have a huge impact on the well-being of people with dementia and this inspired him to create Jelly Drops.

It can be very difficult to design for people with Dementia. The symptoms and behaviours vary massively and their inability to articulate feelings and thoughts makes it challenging to understand how to help them. To overcome these issues and get a solid understanding of the problem Lewis immersed himself in his grandmother’s care home for over a month. 

Many with dementia no longer feel thirst, don't know how to quench thirst, don’t recognise cups or don't have the dexterity to drink. Through observations, Lewis found that people with dementia tend to be more independent whilst eating, particularly whilst enjoying finger food in a setting with few distractions. Even still, it can be difficult to engage and encourage them to eat. Lewis found the best way to overcome this is to offer them a treat! This format excites people with dementia, they instantly recognize it and know how to interact with it. Jelly Drops builds on this insight - these bright, tasty treats attract the attention of people with dementia, and the firm, easy to grip 'drops' make them simple to pick up. And they work! Lewis’ grandmother ate 7 Jelly Drops in 10 minutes at the first attempt - the equivalent to a cup full of water, something that would usually take her hours and require much more assistance. Eating a box should equate to over half the daily necessary fluid requirement. 

It can be very time consuming to keep someone with dementia sufficiently hydrated, and sometimes care homes struggle to fulfil this requirement. The result is an accelerated decline in residents conditions that exacerbates other care requirements, in turn increasing cost for the care home and increasing hospital admissions. Jelly Drops encourage people with dementia to hydrate independently, reducing their reliance on carers and improving their quality of life. In addition to cost savings, Jelly Drops also enhances social interactions between staff and residents. The drops make, what can otherwise be a frustrating and upsetting task, into an enjoyable moment and exciting interaction.

Drink thickeners are often used for those with dementia as they make it easier for people with swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) to consume liquids. Despite being used widely, this approach fails to tackle the key issue of engaging people to drink in the first place. Jelly Drops is unique in its ability to encourage people to hydrate independently.

Jelly Drops has been awarded the prestigious Snowdon Award for Disability from the Helen Hamlyn Centre, the DESIRE Award for Social Impact from the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College London, the Student Healthcare Meaning-Centred Design Award and was voted one of the best 2018 graduating design projects in the world at the Global Grad Show in Dubai. The venture has received fantastic press coverage in the last couple of months with online videos receiving over 100 million views. 

The Jelly Drops team are working with food innovation labs, speech and language therapists, dieticians and manufacturers to get Jelly Drops into care homes as soon as possible. Please sign up to our mailing list at jellydrops.co.uk if you run a care home and would like to trial or if you think that you may be able to help in any other way. We look forward to hearing from you!