Welcome to my blog! This week I’m talking about the power of social media and robotic cats.
Highlight of the week
Connecting with author, blogger and campaigner Norman McNamara who was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia at the age of 50. Now 58, Norman continues to live well and tirelessly campaigns to raise awareness of the condition. Recently he published a very powerful, eloquent short film explaining why he won’t apologise for enjoying his life. It really moved me because I also believe people can live well with dementia, providing they’re well informed and receiving all the advice and support they need. Norman and I will be speaking on the phone tomorrow to find out how we can support each other. I’m really looking forward to it.
I started the week with our first proper team meeting in which everyone shares performance details from the week before. It was very exciting – a sure sign we are now a formal retail business.
On David’s instruction, I’m also becoming more familiar with social media, throwing myself into Twitter and Facebook, and finding I actually enjoy it, particularly the people it allows me to meet, such as the delightful Norman McNamara (see above) and the amazing Tommy Whitelaw. Tommy gave up a career in the music industry to care for his mum Joan who had vascular dementia. When Joan passed away Tommy began a hugely popular, Government-funded awareness campaign ‘Tommy on Tour.’ Tommy and I are meeting for a coffee when he’s in London next week. Isn’t Twitter great?!
I was thrilled to receive a tweet from one of my favourite authors Liam Black who had read my last blog in which I talked about the stresses of starting your own business. He sent me a signed copy of his book The Social Entrepreneur’s A-Z. I read it over the weekend and it’s witty and beautiful. Thanks Liam!
I was also really pleased to hear that the Sporting Memories Network has received a £540,000 Government grant from the Big Lottery Fund – I’m meeting them next week and they’re a really impressive charity.
I spent time today reading about a new range of robotic ‘companion pets’ for the elderly which have been developed by toy maker Hasbro. The Joy For All range features a cat that purrs, meows and falls asleep. Whilst I’m concerned by some of the suggestions that toys like this could be used as a replacement for good care, I definitely think there’s a place for them, and that they could have great therapeutic value, especially for people who have owned pets in the past. We’ll be bringing robotic cats onto our site very soon.
I was also heartened to read in Science Daily about new research into how dementia affects the brain’s GPS. The GPS tracker market is currently a mess and Unforgettable is working hard to bring this in line. Our in-depth review of the tracker market, which we’re conducting with our design partner Designability, will be completed next month. We’ll bring you the results as soon as possible.
Our content writer Hannah was invited to try out a dementia simulator today (read all about it here) and returned to the office this afternoon visibly affected by the experience. Spending eight minutes walking in the shoes (literally) of someone with dementia had taught her so much, she’d even begun to ‘shuffle’ as she walked and hold onto random objects, refusing to let them go – just as my mum, and many others do, too. I’d love to ‘take the tour’ myself and I’d really recommend it to anyone who’s caring for a loved one with dementia, or who simply wants to understand the condition more. Go to www.virtualdementiatour.co.uk for more information.
What next for technology?
As well as Robotic cats and a dementia simulator, there was also a lot of publicity this week around a new ‘dementia app’ called Nudgu. Dementia apps is a rapidly growing market and whilst I’m not really sure if apps are – or will become – devices that carers will turn to for support, I do think it’s time we took a careful look at what’s out there, what’s good and what’s not. This is an area we’ll be tackling shortly.
Our dementia specific Legal Power of Attorney will be ready soon. It will be the world’s first power of attorney, specifically designed for people with dementia and with many other features I can’t reveal yet. Best of all it will be free. Watch out!