Comment: Technology solutions and dementia care

In this article, James Rycroft, managing director at specialist dementia care provider, Vida Healthcare, discusses the different technologies available to integrate into dementia care and their benefits

Technology will have a key role to play in supporting people living with dementia, particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

Keeping engaged

As people progress through their dementia journey their needs will change, but the requirementd for suitable care and enrichment do not diminish.

So it’s important to make sure the right entertainment is being delivered for each individual.

And technology can play a crucial role in supporting care providers in keeping the people they care for engaged.

Technological solutions such as sensory equipment, for example magic surfaces and interactive tables, can enable caregivers to stimulate and engage people living with dementia to move more and interact socially in a fun way.

Technology has a huge number of benefits and can support care providers in a range of ways when it comes to delivering specialist dementia care

Sensory equipment can offer a range of interactive experiences, including games and lights which can usually be projected onto walls and tables.

The projections respond to hand and arm movements, which help to break through apathy by stimulating both physical and cognitive activity, and encouraging social interaction.

Virtual reality (VR) can also provide entertainment and enrichment for people living with dementia.

VR activates sensorimotor contingencies which can fool the brain into believing that the person has been transported to another world, and that what is happening is real.

VR can offer people living with dementia, and in particular care home residents, the chance to go on ‘real-world’ walks and experience places they can no longer visit, or may have always wanted to travel to.

This technology can, in turn, vastly improve the quality of life for people living with dementia by helping to recall past memories, reduce aggression, and improve interactions with care providers.

Keeping active

Not only is it important to keep people living with dementia entertained and enriched, but activity is also crucial.

While supporting outdoor activity is highly beneficial, this isn’t always possible; and technology can be used in this case.

Not only is it important to keep people living with dementia entertained and enriched, but activity is also crucial

Adapted exercise equipment, such as indoor bikes which are combined with video and sound, can take users on cycling trips through familiar surroundings and childhood memories.

Benefits include improved mobility, faster rehabilitation, increased appetite, reduction in pain, and better sleep, alongside better mental and social wellbeing.

Video calling apps have also been crucial in enabling the continued provision of exercise classes during COVID-19, especially where external trainers are required.

Initiatives such as stretching classes, which can continue as normal using video calling apps, give people living with dementia the opportunity to try different exercise formats and socialise with both caregivers and the person leading the class.

Keeping connected

Technology can also develop and support crucial connections between caregivers, people living with dementia, and their loved ones when living in a residential care setting, particularly during a health crisis like COVID-19.

Ecare plans enable family members and loved ones to access their health and care plans. This enables key stakeholders to remain involved with the care of their loved one, and to ensure that consent is secured along every step of the care journey.

In addition, care home operators should consider establishing webinars to keep family members and loved ones up to date with the plan of action as we move into winter, and be able to ask any questions they may have.

At Vida Healthcare we’ve developed and launched a valuable new app to keep our residents and their families connected during COVID-19 and beyond.

The Family Team Talk app was developed to allow families and friends of residents at our care homes to see a snapshot of daily life.

Technology can develop and support crucial connections between caregivers, people living with dementia, and their loved ones when living in a residential care setting, particularly during a health crisis like COVID-19

The app is user friendly and gives families instant access to catch up on the health and wellbeing of their loved one through posts and updates from staff, videos, and images.

Launching this app has raised the morale of relatives, residents, and staff, and has given everyone a greater feeling of connectivity and reassurance.

Technology has a huge number of benefits and can support care providers in a range of ways when it comes to delivering specialist dementia care.

It’s important that technology is integrated as soon as possible to safeguard services for the future, and ensure high-quality care is delivered, especially in the case of future crises arising.

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