How embracing technology can help support patients with dementia

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Sheila McEwan, a Viewpoinr resident, tries out Tovertafel

Lyn Jardine explains how Viewpoint, a housing and care provider in Edinburgh, has been embracing the power of technology for an innovative new dementia strategy

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11th June 2018 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

Imagine fishing by the pond, doing a jigsaw puzzle or painting.

For people with dementia in care today, there is a wealth of new technology available that gives them the opportunity to do activities that they and their carers perhaps thought they would not be able to do again.

Technology may be a surprising element for the care sector, but it is improving the quality of life for many in care.

We have seen in our care homes that technology can play an extremely positive role in energising and engaging our residents.

Lyn Jardine

Lyn Jardine

Companies such as Active Cues and breakthroughs in virtual reality technology are giving people living with dementia the ability to be active and explore their surroundings in ways previously unimaginable.

Tovertafel is a playful, interactive light projector that encourages older people to get moving and have fun.

With a heavy focus on light, movement and vibrant colours, Tovertafel is having a major impact on its users. In one instance, for example, it is reported to have helped a gentleman reconnect with his love of painting after he lost the confidence to pick up a paintbrush.

He now uses Tovertafel to create his latest masterpieces. For us, it has been a joy to see Tovertafel stimulate genuine interest among our residents and encourage communication.

The Way Back app is a virtual reality film app that recently emerged on the market, allowing users to go back in time and experience moments from the past. Currently available is a film that allows the user to completely immerse themselves in the Queen’s coronation in 1953. People living with dementia now have the opportunity for new experiences and the chance to relive precious memories and hobbies.

No different from other care providers, care homes spend a large amount of time on paperwork, which can have an impact care.

Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation noted that in one care home, a manager estimated that she spent approximately 20% of her working week doing paperwork, the equivalent of one full day.

In Scotland alone, 90,000 people are currently recognised as living with dementia, and this number is expected to increase by 20,000 per year by 2020.

Quality of care for people living with dementia is critical, demanding a well-trained workforce and often round-the-clock support. Now imagine a full day a week where this time could instead be spent looking after them. It should come as little surprise then, that the care industry is facing a crisis in recruitment.

There are new ways that care professionals are embracing technology to reduce administrative burden. The digitisation of care home resident records can increase efficiency. “Smart” medicine bottles that dispense the correct amount of medication when needed, or passive monitoring technology that can detect early signs of illness (in cases where someone may not be able to communicate) can revolutionise care.

Using emerging technology could transform the care industry for the better. It can make things easier for the amazing people who do the caring.

Technology should by no means be seen as a replacement to traditional carers. You simply can’t replace genuine human contact in the caring industry. But technological advances are here to help us, and we should take advantage of that.

Lyn Jardine is head of innovation and development at Viewpoint Housing Association.