Fluid is an adaptive drinking aid for bedridden patients that consists of a medical-grade silicone vessel and various interchangeable accessories that are designed for different scenarios.

Selected for Cooper Hewitt Call for Student Entries: Access + Ability, 2018


The idea for designing an adaptive drinking aid comes from my personal experience when my family struggled to find a suitable drinking cup for my father when he was in home hospice care. Seeing the issues that came with trying to perform a basic need convinced me that there is a need to look at how the form of a drinking aid can be improved for a bedridden loved one.

Bedridden Patients and Dehydration

When a bedridden patient becomes reliant on a caregiver for liquid intake, the possibility of dehydration becomes a very serious issue.

Improper hydration can cause constipation and bedsores, compromise the immune system, and even lead to death

Proper hydration requires education of the patient and consistent monitoring by the caregiver. Beyond this, it can be extremely beneficial for patients to use a drinking aid to ease the action of drinking and provide them with an independent way to obtain liquids.

Current Types on the Market

There are a variety of drinking aids on the market that range from general cups to cups designed for specific issues, such as the nosey cup which is designed to reduce the amount of neck motion. 

Straw Holder

Nosey Cup
Wide/Weighted Base
Handled Cup
Spout Cup

The plastic ergonomic cup with a built-in straw was most recommended by hospice nurses. However, there are positives and negatives to this particular design.

+ A patient can grip the cup well.
+ The straw is better than a spout.
+ It sits well on tables.

- It leaks water when on its side.
- A patient must sit up to drink.
- The straw is too short and inflexible.

" The cups don't fit the needs of the patients."

- Caregiver of cancer patient in home hospice

Key Insights

In addition to the physical design issues I observed with the current options, I discovered key insights into two pain points associated with drinking aids.

Patient Movement Issues

As patients become weaker, the ability to access liquid independently is extremely difficult, making the patient reliant on the caregiver for liquid access

Not being flexible for different scenarios

Because each patient may have different transitions (bed to hospital bed or bed to wheelchair), the lack of flexibility was an issue with many of the drinking aids

Designing for a Variety of Transitions

While I was was inspired by the sequence of transitions my father went through while in home hospice, I also explored the various scenarios that could occur for different individuals (temporary and permanent scenarios) to gain an understanding of the various situations a patient may experience.

How can an adaptive cup be designed to fit the needs and be more accessible to the patient?

What is Fluid?

Fluid consists of a medical-grade silicone vessel and various interchangeable accessories that are designed for different scenarios. The main vessel is made of a single molded silicone part to prevent leakage and enables it to be flexible, which assists in holding, especially for patients with a weak grasp. The wide and narrow shape of Fluid allows it to easily rest on the body of the patient and provides an area to firmly hold it with one or two hands. 

The long flexible straw features a medical-grade silicone bite valve to help prevent leakage. By providing a flexible straw, it reduces the amount of forward "sitting up" movement the patient needs to do to access liquid. The threaded cap features a finger tab to assist with tightening and opening the cap. The top ring of the silicone main vessel compresses against the cap, which acts as a seal to prevent leakage.

Flexible for Different Scenarios

The removable plastic accessories are designed to be interchangeable with the 4 oz. and 8 oz. size main vessels. Each accessory is designed for a specific scenario that may arise as a patient progresses in his illness. The accessories featured include a tabletop holder for storage when not in use, a clip style for blankets or clothing, a holder for hanging Fluid on a hospital bed, and a handle style to turn Fluid into a cup with a handle.

© 2018 Laura Rodriguez