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Memory aid to structure and support daily activities for people with dementia

Objective: Use of technology to structure and support the daily activities of the residents in a small scale group accommodation (SSGA) for dementia is a new innovation in the Netherlands. This paper presents: a) the process of development of this new way of structuring activities by describing the making of digital planning boards, b) the findings of a pilot study looking at the experiences of using this device in people with dementia living in a small-scale group accommodation as well as experiences of informal carers and members of staff and c) the process of organizing day structure using this device from the user's perspectives.

Main content of paper: To develop the memory aid a user centred development process was used. After the first development cycle was completed the resulting digital planning boards were placed in the living room of a small scale living group for people with dementia and in private rooms of the residents. The main task of the aid is to support the memory of the residents by structuring the daily activities during the day. This paper provides the experiences of the users including the residents, informal carers and members of staff, issues around implementation and further development.

Method & findings: A qualitative method was chosen, data was collected using semi structured individual interviews with the residents (n=6) and focus groups interviews with informal carers (n=5) and members of staff (n=6). The framework analysis by Ritchie & Spencer (1994) was used to analyse the data. This resulted in the description of the findings based on the following three general themes; the state of affairs regarding the implementation, the needs for further development and the learning experiences acquired during the development.

The occurrence of installation errors, inefficient use, limited ease of use and a lack of knowledge regarding the function and use of the memory aid are highlighted as the most important issues that prevented a successful implementation. However, the majority of the residents were happy with the use and function of the memory aid when it worked. The informal carers were not very positive but indicated opportunities for improvement. This was echoed by the staff, although they saw an added value for the current use of the device. The findings highlighted shared views about ways of improving through adaptation of the software programme and additional technological applications such as Internet connectivity, improving its accessibility by using a remote control, adding videos and photos.

Conclusions: A number of lessons are learned about the use and transferability of this innovation in general health care setting as well as in people with dementia. The process of user centred design and development will be followed to obtain solutions that can be effectively implemented in their living environment.

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Additional Titles
Assistive Technology Research Series

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Conference paper
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Scopus scopus - exported 1/8/16
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