DAA technology event recap
The latest national Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) event, which focused on technology and dementia, took place on the 16th May at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) in Borough, London. Over 60 delegates attended the event, which was made up of people affected by dementia, national health and social care members as well as experts in the technology sector. The event was co-chaired by DAA Executive Lead, Kelly Kaye and former carer and tide representative Frank Arrojo.
The day was kicked off by host Karin Orman, Professional Practice Manager at RCOT who spoke about the role technology plays in occupational therapy and the importance of considering the person; in particular ‘what the person wants or needs to be able to do’, as well as their environment and asking if there is even a need for a technical solution.
We then heard from the wonderful George Rook, a dementia diarist, along with occupational therapist Fran Hamilton and Rachel Niblock from DEEP to talk about the Dementia Diaries project. Through the use of technology they have been able to bring together people’s diverse experiences of living with dementia as a series of audio diaries, serving as a public record and a personal archive that documents the views, reflections and day-to-day lives of people living with dementia. Rachel explained how the project is a great resource and tool for training purposes especially for commissioners, as it is a depository of expert accounts that is the voices of people living with dementia.
We were also able to hear from the perspective of a carer, where Cecilia Toole from tide shared her personal and emotional experience of caring for her father who had co-morbidities – dementia and sight loss. She explained how the best piece of technology that improved his life was something so simple - a talking watch - as it was able to empower him and give him some control over time.
The day then continued with two panel sessions and a show and tell comprising of ‘tech experts’ presenting how their organisation or products are helping to improve the lives of people living with dementia through technology. Dr Ian Radford spoke for Aparito to explain their patient monitoring products. Coming from a clinical side, their product is a wearable device and disease-specific mobile app to provide remote patient monitoring outside of the hospital environment, with the aim of connecting patients to doctors. Stephen Hart from Canary Care then spoke of their home monitoring system, emphasising how it was ‘passive’ technology and unobtrusive as possible to enable people to live independently in their homes. Etienne Abrahams from RemindMeCare/ Health Connected then spoke about how they are working on a project around voice technology on the back of products like Amazon’s Alexa and how they can use this new medium to improve care. John Ramsay from Tovertafel then spoke of their product; a light box mounted on the ceiling that projects patterns on to a table, developed for people with moderate to late stages of dementia aimed to stimulate both physical and cognitive activity to encourage social interaction.
In the second panel session, Vanessa Pritchard-Wilkes from Housing & Care 21 (co-author of the Dementia-Friendly Housing Charter) spoke of how they are trying to update technology in their homes to make them more fit for purpose. For instance, developing the iconic ‘pull cord’ so it is more mobile and accessible and not confined to certain areas of the home. She then shared a video of how their organisation is becoming more dementia-friendly. We also heard from Lisa Stroux of Sentimoto who spoke of their wellbeing app. Using smartphones, they are able to collect behavioural data to create an analytics platform that provides suggestions and enables people to engage with their health as well as allowing health & social care professionals to understand the outcomes of interventions. Adam Vaughan from Unforgettable then spoke about his company’s passion for believing there is plenty of life to be lived with dementia, which is why they believe in co-design and the input from people with dementia, carers, health care professionals and support groups to help inform their products and services. Lowri Fon Jon from Tunstall Healthcare Group also spoke about connected care/ telecare and how it can complement the lives of people affected by dementia.
The event was a success, with many delegates enjoying the format of hearing from people living with dementia and carers. The panel sessions and show and tell were also well received as it allowed for much discussion and immersion into the topic of the day. Many of the speakers also learnt a great deal from the ‘experts’ in the room and will be using the DAA network and those affected by dementia to help inform their products and decision making within their respective companies going forward. After all, technology is useful but what is most important about dementia care is human interaction.
To learn more from the day here are the: