Student invents Jelly Drops as aid to hydration

Student invents Jelly Drops as aid to hydration

Jelly Drops are super-hydrating treats, developed by Royal College of Art student Lewis Hornby in response to his grandma’s struggle with dehydration – something that is common in individuals living with dementia.

The brightly coloured treats come in a box, which looks similar to traditional sweets and chocolates, and the firm, easy to grip ‘drop’ shape makes them simple to pick up. Lewis found that the format excites people with dementia, they instantly recognise it and know how to interact with it whereas they are often confused by, or ignore, a cup of fluid.
“When first offered, grandma ate seven Jelly Drops in 10 minutes – the equivalent to a cup full of water, something that would normally take hours and require much more assistance,” said the 24-year-old. Eating the whole box would account for around half the necessary daily fluid intake apparently.

The product’s design is the result of Lewis spending several weeks living in Grandma Pat’s care home during which he observed the behaviours of the residents, the routines of the carers and spoke to families and other visitors. Realising a solid form of hydration would be easier to interact with than a liquid, Lewis consulted with doctors to understand how to create a ‘super-hydrating’ food.
“I experimented to create a consistency that was easy to pick up and left no residue on the hands.” He tested many formats in the care home and found the treat box the best way to engage with residents. “By offering residents treats from a box, I found even people that would usually ignore me became animated and would excitedly take many,” said Lewis.

Jelly Drops are over 90% water, with extra ingredients making them more hydrating than just drinking that volume alone; what’s more, Lewis tells us, their solid format also increases hydration as it takes longer for the body to break them down, giving the kidneys a better chance of absorbing the water.

Jelly Drops have already attracted a lot of attention and won two awards – the Helen Hamlyn Design Award – Snowdon Award for Disability, and the Dyson School of Design Engineering DESIRE Award for Social Impact – and Lewis is confident he will be able to put his invention into production following further trials. Find out more at

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