How innovation improves life for people with disabilities

Since its inception in Victorian London, Livability has been innovative in its search to provide the best care for children, young people and adults with disabilities. We were one of the first to pioneer specialised care for disabled children and employment opportunities for disabled young women. Innovation is the focus of our new blog series – how are Livability’s innovations today improving life for people with disabilities?

Playing games is fun (especially if you are winning) and along with that comes many health and wellbeing benefits for the players. Boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure, increasing fine motor skills and social interaction are some of the positives that can result from playing board and video games. Cue the Magic Table, a device which Livability has installed at five of its services, to enable the people we support to take part in games and sensory programmes which improve their health and wellbeing.

The Magic Table is an interactive light projector, which beams a wide range of games and activities onto any surface – table, floor or walls. Originally designed for people living with dementia, the Table has been developed to benefit people with disabilities. Participants can play sports-based games, such as football or table tennis, relax as they watch moving, calming images or play a range of entertaining games.

‘The projector beams the game onto a table or flat surface, and when the beam is broken, by someone’s hand or stick for instance, it triggers a response,’ says Lee Ashcroft, Activity Coordinator. ‘So for instance, there’s a bubble-bursting game, that pops a bubble when you put your hand over it – very pleasing!’

It’s not what’s on the table that matters, it’s who’s around it

The Table can be easily moved from a shared living room where groups can play or to an individual’s bedroom, to play on their own. ‘We use the Magic Table daily,’ says Elvis Balabka, who manages Livability Ashley Place, home to up to 21 disabled adults. ‘People play it on their own but it also draws people together, so quite often there will be four or more players sitting around it.’ Manager Maddy Brook at Livability York House Ossett agrees: ‘It’s like a magnet – as soon as one resident starts playing, everyone joins in. We love it!’

Enabling and accessible

The Magic Table makes sharing in games possible for people whose disability prevents them from using more conventional platforms. ‘Someone may not be able to use a gaming console because of their disability, but the Magic Table is great for them,’ says Lee. Elvis agrees: ‘We see a lot of benefits, like improving fine motor skills because people are using their hands or a stick to touch the table to take part in the game. It’s more physical and can be more sociable than using a tablet, say. There’s a great level of movement involved.’

Boosting wellbeing

Services using the Magic Table have also seen psychological benefits for the people they support. ‘We use it regularly and have really noticed it helps to improve residents’ mood and keeps them calm,’ says Sami Hey, staff member at York House. The Magic Table is such a source of enjoyment to Neil, who attends The Links day service in Northamptonshire, that his mother reports noticeable changes. Neil gets out of bed extra early and needs no prompting when he knows he will be playing on the Magic Table that day.

Table talk

Lee is now piloting multi-service Magic Table sessions on Zoom, bringing the five services together for fun, friendly competition and to give the opportunity to meet others. The joint session is noisy, fun and very interactive. Grant, who lives at high dependency service Livability Treetops, is a keen participant and says he enjoyed meeting new friends at the other services, via the Magic Table. Peter at York House Ossett enjoys ‘winning’ – his favourite game involves dropping ‘money’ into a piggy bank, to beat other teams with the total. Peter did indeed win that day, with a record piggy bank score.