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Parallel Session: New technologies

Abstracts and presentations

Developing a Dementia Design Audit Tool: Theory to practice

Colm Cunningham, Dementis Services Development Centre, University of Stirling, United Kingdom, colm.cunningham@stir.ac.uk
Co-author: Maria McManus

Expertise about design for people with dementia has developed over many years. ‘Dementia-friendly design’ is increasingly being informed by research, as well as expert opinion. The Dementia Services Development Centre formed an expert group to consider how best to audit buildings used by people with dementia. The group lead by Colm Cunningham undertook a detailed review of the literature and associated literature as well as expert opinion. This information was structured into an audit tool suitable for evaluating all environments used by people with dementia (e.g. care homes, supported housing and hospital wards). The tool was piloted from January to March 2008 in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Australia.

This paper will consider the process of effective decision-making about what constitutes dementia-friendly design. It will present a critical look at the issues raised within the literature and expert opinion presented in articles and books on the subject of design and dementia. The paper will explain how this work has informed the development of the Dementia Design Audit Tool. It will explain the methodology developed to rate public and private spaces used by people with dementia using the format of the tool. The paper will describe how the tool has been used in both in the pilot phase and how it in currently used in practice. The presentation will set out some of the challenges that exist to improving the financial and project management decisions in relations to the range of facilities and public spaces used by people with dementia

Electronic assistance for community dwelling people with dementia; user-driven development of a cognitive prosthetic device

Franka Meiland, VU University Medical Centre, Netherlands, fj.meiland@vumc.nl
Co-authors: S Sävenstedt, F. Moelaert, D. Craig, R.J. Davies, C.D. Nugent, A-L. Andersson, R.M. Dröes

As the number of people with dementia increases, so too will the demands on care and support at home. Thus, additional technical solutions to maintain a good level of support for people with dementia are needed. The European COGKNOW project aims to develop an integrated, cognitive prosthetic device to help community-dwelling persons with mild dementia in their daily functioning. The project is strongly user-driven and focuses on four needs areas: memory support, maintaining social contacts, support in daily living activities, and increasing feelings of safety.

The design process consists of three iterative cycles. At three test sites across Europe (Amsterdam, Belfast and Luleå) persons with dementia and their carers (n=18 in each cycle) actively participate in the development process. Workshops were conducted to assess the needs and wishes of persons with dementia, interviews were conducted to assess their background characteristics and disabilities, and a prototype of the device was tested on user-friendliness and usefulness in the user's homes. These data served as the basis for development of the COGKNOW Day Navigator (CDN) prototype, an electronic assistant that provides a day and time indication and reminding service; a picture dialling function; a media playback and a radio function; and a warning device for an open front/fridge door and an emergency help contact.

Thirty-four couples participated in the first two iterations. The overall user-friendliness of the CDN was judged favourably by the users, but with some suggestions for improvement, such as more scope to adjust according to personal preferences. The usefulness of the CDN was positively evaluated, though the assessment of usefulness of the different functions varied depending on personal preferences and needs. The day and time indicator, the picture phone and the music and radio function were considered very useful. In the final iteration we will also evaluate the impact of the CDN on quality of life and autonomy of persons with dementia. Our experiences support the argument that it is essential to employ both a user-driven design and a multidisciplinary approach in order to help develop user-friendly, useful and acceptable assistive technology for people with dementia and their carers

Can technology support the QoL of people with dementia?

Inger Hagen, Forget-me-not AS, Norway, pst@forglemmegei.no
Co-authors: Lars Thomas Boye, Riitta Hellman and Gro Marit Rødevand

Research on conceptualisation of quality of life in dementia revealed two new domains termed interaction capacity and sense of aesthetics that were important to people with dementia (Brod et al. The Gerontologist 39, 1999, 25-35). Interaction capacity concerned ability to interact with the environment, including communication difficulties, ability to comprehend and confusion.

Aesthetics was defined as “the experience of appreciation and pleasure obtained from sensory awareness on a verbal or nonverbal level, such as viewing or creating art, the sights and sounds of nature, and listening to music”. The use of modern information and communication technology (ICT) has the potential to support these as well as other QoL domains such as recreational activities/hobbies. However, until now the main focus has been on the development of technologies for security and safety. With the aim of exploring how ICT could support pleasure, communication and activities interviews were undertaken with seniors (two groups, 6 and 11 persons, age 71 – 79 and 83 – 90 years, respectively) and family carers of people with early onset dementia (one group, 9 persons). TV, radio and mobile phone were most popular ICT devices used. The seniors thought that the design and functionality was not user friendly and that the instructions were difficult to understand. The family carers explained what activities the person they cared for liked, how this in some cases had changed during the course of the disease.

Watching TV and listening to the radio was important but disturbing factors such as interrupting commercials were mentioned. An overview of available ICTs showed that the previous emphasis on the need to ensure that advances in technology should used to benefit people with dementia and their carers (Marshall, Journal of Dementia Care, 1996, 4 (6) 12-13) has not yet happened to any substantial degree. Based on in-put from the groups as well as previous research in this field, a sketch of an ICT system was designed to support wellbeing of the person with dementia by facilitating bi-directional communication with family members, memory and enabling the person to carry out recreational as well as other activitieS

Web-based tertiary vocational education for health care professionals working within the dementia care and geriatric psychiatry fields

Signe Baksaas Gjelstad, Ageing and Health, Norwegian Centre for Research, Education and Service Development, Norway, signe.gjelstad@aldringohelse.no
Co-author: Janne Johannessen

In order to face the challenge of the increasing number of people with dementia, there is a need for more health care workers with specialised professional knowledge.

In Norway, students can choose vocational education and training in upper secondary school, in order to enable students to go directly to work in their chosen field. One of the options is health and social services. This basic education provides no in- depth knowledge of dementia and geriatric psychiatry.

It is for these reasons that Ageing and Health – the Norwegian Centre for Research, Education and Service Development, offers this group of health care workers the opportunity for further education within the dementia and geriatric psychiatry fields. This course has been approved as a professional college course by the Norwegian national organ responsible for quality assurance in tertiary vocational education, NOKUT. 50 students were enrolled in the autumn of 2008. The students had to be currently working in a situation w here they have to care for individuals with dementia or geriatrical psychiatric afflictions.

The course is structured as a part-time course over two years, equivalent to one year if studying full-time. In order to reach health care workers nationwide, the study is web based, communicating through an online electronic classroom. In the classroom the students can find information, follow lectures, hand in written assignments and discuss issues related to the field with a teacher or other students.

Experience has shown that communication within the virtual classroom improves if the students meet each other regularly. As a consequence, one meeting per semester and regular video conferences has been planned. Because of the course’s vocational focus, the principles of learning by doing have provided the basis of our curriculum. Practice related assignments will have a central position in the course. During the last year, the students will use their knowledge by practicing environmental therapy, and through this work further develop their ability to reflect and evaluate independently on professional issues.

From passivating to activating technology

Ilkka Winblad, University of Oulu, Finland, ilkka.winblad@oulu.fi

Co-authors: Pulli P, Martikainen O, Leinonen E, Rissanen M, Sorri L, Tuppurainen Y, Isomursu M, Viramo P, Reponen J, Jämsä T, Kangas M, Takala T and the senior team of the Third Age University of Oulu

For people with dementia there is a lot of applications of technology developed for controlling purposes in order to protect them from harmful events e.g. preventing going out of doors, using cooker or taps, etc.

The other side of the coin is that they may restrict too much everyday life leading on to passiveness and even social isolation. That is why our team has chosen an opposite approach: to create technological solutions which motivate and assist people with dementia in performing conventional activities, and take care of them all the time. We have focused on developing solutions for supporting grocery shopping, because in our study population 83% needed another person’s help for that. Shopping is related to social interaction with other people along with buying pleasing goods thus supporting the sense of independence and maintaining citizenship.

The data to be transferred automatically by means of ubiquitous technology can be classified in three categories: 1) supplying the person with dementia with information by context aware technology concerning weather conditions, orienting, escort alarm, etc. A cellular multimedia phone with a sufficiently large display, accessories and sensors, can be a peripheral device, 2) concern for safety realised by hazard detection and alarm technology using wireless information networks to transfer the alarm to a control centre, on-call duty of social welfare, or nominated relatives, and 3) mediating her/his needs to relevant actors in the shop by applications of RFID and locating technology. Foodstuffs to be purchased can be determined by smart refrigerator technology integrated with electronic commerce systems.

By the above-mentioned means, our multidisciplinary Smart Environment Project for Senior Citizens (SESC) continuing as Value Creation for Smart Living Environment of Senior Citizens (VESC), both funded by the Academy of Finland, targets at reducing solitary and isolation problems of the elderly with memory problems and improving the quality of their care by proper human-centered use of the technology.

The development of Assistive Technology (AT) for cognitively impaired persons. A European attempt

Ileana Turcu, Ana Aslan International Academy of Anti-Aging, Romania, office@brainaging.ro
Co-authors: Camelia Ghita, Ioana Ioancio, Costin Nuta, Mona Blaciotti, Mariana Martin, Lucian Stefan, Luiza Spiru

The development of supportive environments and Assistive Technology (AT) is recommended by the International Plan of Action on Ageing (Madrid 2002) as a priority direction. Besides assisting disabled people in improving their quality of life in a non-intrusive way, assistive technology devices also allow a better control of costs, as most equipment rentals are monthly far less expensive than recruiting the services of a nurse or home health aide.

However, the large majority of existing Ambient Intelligence (AmI) platforms designed to support disabled people in their activities of daily living are predominantly centered on physical disabilities. We are reporting our contribution as medical partner in the European FP6-2006-IST-6 project Nr. 045088 SHARE-it (Supported Human Autonomy for Recovery and Enhancement of cognitive and motor abilities using information technologies), an endeavor dedicated to the development of the next generation of intelligent and semi-autonomous assistive devices for elderly and people with cognitive and/or motor disabilities. In particular, the constraint of the multiple dimensions of cognitive variability in user assessment/profiling and target population establishment is pointed out.

 

 
 

Last Updated: Wednesday 21 October 2009

 

 
 

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