Dementia experts and carers came together this month at The UK’s annual Dementia Congress to share some exciting new projects and ideas for dementia care. Unforgettable’s Adam Vaughan shares a few highlights
I recently had the pleasure of attending the UK Dementia Congress and National Dementia Care Awards. Unforgettable was lucky enough to be shortlisted for the Outstanding Dementia Care Product award for our Lasting Power of Attorney product and it was truly an honour to be considered amongst the best of the best in the dementia community.
The Congress is a wide variety of talks and workshops. Professionals who work in dementia research and care share their findings and showcase projects they’ve been working on. I was impressed by the sheer variety of innovative projects, both at an academic and grass roots level, and came away feeling very hopeful and positive about all the great work that’s happening right now to make it easier to live with dementia. A few projects particularly stood out to me, so I thought I’d share them with you.
The Alzheimer’s Society Service User Review Panels (SURPS) are panels of people living with dementia that were originally set up to review the services that the Society itself offered. However, they proved such a success, that they are now being employed by a number of socially aware companies to review how well their products and services perform for someone with dementia. I heard how one group in the north of England had been working with train and bus operators, and how a group in Wales had not only reviewed an app developed by the BBC, but successfully managed to change public policy in Wales through their campaigning and feedback. This struck a chord with me, as at Unforgettable it’s important to have the voice of those living with dementia at the centre of everything we do, so it’s great to see other companies beginning to understand the importance of designing for dementia too.
Positive Spin is run by Cycle Training UK in London parks to get people with dementia cycling. Using all ability bikes alongside regular bikes, and under the expert tuition of David Dansky and Clare Mason, those living with dementia and their carers can share the wind in their hair, the sun on their faces, and the good all-round workout that cycling provides for their muscles and their senses. I love the way this project encourages positive risk taking and helps those with dementia to retain their independence. Keep an eye on the blog for more detail from David on this project.
Developed by the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare at the University of Sheffield, AcTo Dementia (short for Accessible Touchscreen) provides recommendations for touchscreen apps that work particularly well for people with dementia. Their recommendations are based on a wealth of evidence and many hours observing those with dementia using different touchscreen apps. Not only are they able to give advice to family carers on which apps will work well, they are also putting together guidelines for app developers on how to make their apps dementia friendly. I think this is another great example of how products can be designed for people with dementia without becoming less useful to those who don’t have it. Phil Joddrell who is one of the brains behind the project will be covering it in more detail here shortly, so remember to check back.