Assistive Technology

By Yvonne Manson, Dementia Consultant

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A recent study by Gibson et al 2016 highlighted that there are currently 171 products and 331 assistive technology services available in the UK. As a nation we lead the field in Europe on using assistive technology with 1.7 million users and there is growing national and international interest in how this can be developed further.

In 2015 Alzheimer Scotland published the technology charter for people living with dementia in Scotland and they said it was a ‘call to action for us all to work together to actively promote the use of technology in health and social care’ (Alzheimer Scotland 2015)

Benefits of technology enabled dementia care?

Assistive technology can be enabling and empowering, along with person-centred care it can support a person with dementia to live as independently as possible for as long as possible. There have been many small studies evidencing how technology supports independence and safety, despite this, findings this far have been inconclusive on the overall benefits on quality of life and wellbeing.

In life as well as in health and social care we use technology daily and may not even be aware of how prominent it is within our lives: clocks, calendars, mobiles, the internet, lights, intercoms, alarms, reminders, games, software, signage, medication dispensers, call mats, paperless care plans, adapted furniture, mobile aids, GPS systems the list is endless and it continues to grow.

Enabling Communication

Tablets/Ipads/laptops can be used in many different ways to support individuals. Its primary benefit has been to enhance communication within families, particularly those living abroad or in other parts of the country. Skype and facetime brings people closer together as well as peach of mind, being able to see and hear a loved one can be a major comfort.

Throughout Balhousie Care, we also use tablets to gain feedback from residents, relatives and staff on how to improve our service. This helps give people a voice where they can directly impact the happenings within the homes.

Other uses for digital technology include:

  • Picture story books
  • Videos
  • Brain training apps
  • Digital life stories
  • Mindmate
  • Much more

Vinyl players/mps players, ipods, cd’s – technology has meant music is even more easily accessible and it can be used in different formats, vinyl has a distinctive sound and look that can evoke memories. Digital music allows us to store a variety of music in playlists that can be personalised to an individual person or group.

Despite technological advancements, computers, laptops and devises can never take away from the human element of care and the 1:1 interaction that many people crave. Taking a combined approach to care can be powerful and beneficial. 

Within Balhousie Care, we want to explore technology that supports people with dementia to achieve their goals, to improve their wellbeing and aid good person centred care. On the 31st of May a group of our dementia ambassadors are attending a technology seminar in the Iris Murdoch building in Stirling exploring new ways technology can support. 

Look out for a further blog on what they learnt from the seminar.