A service to keep people with dementia connected to their relatives and their nursing team.
In Norway alone, 70,000 people are currently diagnosed with dementia, and this is due to increase with 10,000 new cases each year. Worldwide the number of people with dementia is 24 million, and this number is expected to double in the next 20 years.
Together with the City of Drammen, Norway, we explored one of the biggest challenges for people with dementia and their families, namely social isolation. Most people who have experienced dementia in the family will tell you that strong social networks are a key to maintaining quality of life – both for the patient and for the family. So the question was: How can new technologies strengthen communication between carers and patients to help them maintain active and rewarding lives?
One of the needs we uncovered was the need for more informal communication between the person with dementia, the next of kin and the health personnel. In response to this we created a prototype digital diary that keeps track of what the person with dementia does and experiences during the day. It enables carers to leave short messages, voice messages and pictures for the person with dementia, and for each other. It also lets everyone keep an eye on what is happening, and feel a little bit reassured.
We found that that more personal content triggers “good conversations” with patients, and that keeping a digital diary is especially valuable in cases where the next of kin lives far away from the person with dementia. Not only did the service help reassure the next of kin in everyday life, it also improved the communication between next of kin, health personnel and with the person with dementia.
“Just knowing that she has eaten is reassuring” – next of kin
The prototype has been adopted by health personnel in Drammen, and they are conducting a pilot with this system in the local community.