UCLan | Art, Design & Fashion

NHS Continence


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TYPE:  UCLan Staff Internship
CLIENT: Caroline Sanders
INTERN NAME: Helen Miller
DURATION: 2016 | 15 Weeks (Part time).



‘To produce a product which is specifically designed to absorb liquid draining from a stoma on a child’s lower abdomen, resulting in a comfortable, reusable and quick drying product which is highly absorbent.’

This project, ‘NHS Continence’, employed the services of intern, Helen Miller, at UCLan, who worked closely with Caroline and the School of ADF Team over a period of 15 weeks to create a successful product that was discrete, comfortable and appealing to young children. Helen paid particular attention to the shape and size of the product, and undertook extensive market research and prototype development before selecting the most appropriate final product design, using a unique layering method.  


Caroline Sanders MBE, a representative of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, works with children ranging from a very young age to teenagers who have undergone surgery known as a vesicostomy. This operation provides an opening below the child’s belly button (umbilicus), so that the child’s bladder drains, preventing urine from going back into the kidneys and damaging them. 

Caroline realised the need for an absorbent type product in the market, which could contain the constant leaking from the opening. She saw the potential of this product to be huge, providing children with a better quality of life and environmentally friendly. With this in mind, Caroline approached UCLan, looking to produce a reusable product for children who have undergone the procedure. Requirements were for high absorbency, fast drying and comfort. 


Helen’s main objectives of the project were:

‘Issues affecting patients | comfort/discomfort | leakages/containment | Materials- existing/new possibilities | sourcing samples for testing’

‘Product conceptualisation- initial designs | construction processes | material lab testing (existing and newly found | rough prototypes | final prototype procurement’

‘Refinement of designs -innovative elements/solve issues/testing | focus groups/wear testing on latest prototype(s) - feedback from participants.’

Conclusion- options:
‘Proven final product | further product refinement | discussions regarding procurement and potential volume of production’


Helen Miller was given the opportunity to showcase her skills and execute a product fit for purpose. The ‘NHS Continence’ project gave Helen a platform in which to grow her design portfolio, whilst broadening future opportunities and developing her clientele. 

Helen is now on BAE Systems’ graduate apprenticeship scheme. 


UCLAN (general enquiries)

Preston,Lancashire, UK PR1 2HE

Tel: +44 (0) 1772 201 201

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School of Art, Design & Fashion

Victoria Building VB058, PR1 2HE


Projects Email: SPBrindle@uclan.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0) 1772 89 (3369)

Placement Email: afplacement@uclan.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0) 1772 89 (4262)



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