The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered a host of challenges to the UK manufacturers. Some major companies had to lay off employees or closed facilities to help curb the spread of the virus, as well as for obvious economic reasons. Safeguarding our customers and workforce’s health has been a priority among businesses and governments since the pandemic hit the world. The effects of the necessary actions have had cascading effects across our entire landscape.
The restrictions may have introduced new hurdles for business operations, but in all of the less than promising news, it's great when there are success stories to share. Arthr, a social venture with a mission to improve everyday living for people with arthritis and powered by one of the largest arthritis charities, Versus Arthritis. The company has been set up, including hiring all the staff, during the pandemic. Arthr brings together a passionate community of users, innovators and healthcare professionals to create ergonomic and elegant product solutions to improve the lives and homes of people with arthritis. After careful planning Arthr officially launched on 12th October 2020 with a range of carefully curated products from innovative entrepreneurs and inventors that meet Arthr’s high standards of functionality and design (known as Loved By Arthr); plus one of Arthr’s own branded products (The Car Door Mate)
Arthr designs, develops and champions brilliant innovations to help people with arthritis live to the full. As a social venture, they invest all our profits back into care, support, research, and developing new and better products. At Arthr we work with real people at every stage of the product development cycle. Co-creation ensures real needs are met and only the best of ideas are executed to help people with arthritis.
This started by research and workshops conducted by Versus Arthritis with experts, designers, healthcare professionals and people with arthritis. Here common challenges were identified and it became clear the market was broken. People with arthritis are underserved when it comes to products that help with everyday life and are also well designed. Many products out there are very institutional and belong in hospitals and care homes, not in a home. Once the biggest challenges were identified, we moved on to establishing which of those could be tackled that made the biggest impact.
A common area of difficulty created by pain in the lower body, muscle soreness and weakness related to arthritis is getting on and off the toilet. Pain in the knees, hips and lower pack coupled with a mechanical disadvantage of being lower than your hips makes it hard to sit down and stand back up. To overcome this challenge, the design team went through cycles of concept development and tested these concepts and prototypes with the community of healthcare professionals, experts and users. A key component of the design challenge was the emphasis on beautiful design, something that sets Arthr apart. The product development team is led by Adam Vaughan who previously worked at Lego, and the experience shines through.
The output from concept development is a smart, ergonomic solution called The Toilet Riser. It helps people with arthritis get on and off the toilet with ease by elegantly increasing the height of the toilet, reducing strain on the lower body. It is designed to slide over your existing toilet and thus appear as a contemporary toilet, bringing sophistication to any bathroom. As it fits over an existing toilet, the Arthr Toilet Riser is easy to fit and incredibly secure without the additional cost of a plumber, which is also perfect for those who rent. It is the perfect aid for anyone who faces mobility challenges in the bathroom.
However, it was no easy feat. After months of working on the design and getting the seal of approval from the community, the product team moved to the manufacturing phase of the journey. It was here where the real impact of COVID-19 began to surface. The Toilet Riser faced material challenges which impacted both product design and packaging challenges which in turn impacted the launch date of the product.
Arthr have been keen to establish manufacturing in Britain for several reasons: to ensure the high manufacturing standards, support local businesses and reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. Having a network of homegrown business partners has allowed for challenges to be overcome more readily than if the issues arose overseas. Access to tooling, visibility of new materials and prototypes during the ever evolving manufacturing process has ensured that the challenges surfaced could be tackled head-on, with as few delays as possible. When the issues with material supply arose, as the manufacturer was only a short drive away, access to visibility of new materials allowed the teams to quickly resolve the problem - whilst also adhering to safe Covid-19 practices.
So, with a lot of perseverance and after overcoming tons of problems caused by the pandemic, Arthr is overwhelmed to launch the Toilet Riser on 22nd Jan 2021 which for Arthr, will certainly be one of the most remembered product launches of 2021.
Find out more about Arthr on their member profile page here