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Alzheimer's Society publishes Dementia-friendly tech charter

Alzheimer's Society publishes Dementia-friendly tech charter

The Alzheimer’s Society has published a technology guide for people with dementia after a study showed only a third of the general public knows where to find information about what is available.

The Dementia-friendly charter is aimed at people with dementia, their families and the professionals that look after them. And it was compiled with input from BATA council member Graham Coiley of Amano Technologies.

The charter follows a survey that revealed one in three of the general public do not know where to find information about the equipment that could help them.

The research company YouGov polled 2350 people and found that although 85% of them wanted to live at home if they had dementia, less than half thought they would be able to do so.

Among the 19–24 age group only 33% thought they would be able to live on their own if they got dementia.

YouGov found there was a lack of knowledge about assistive technology that could support people with dementia with a third not knowing where to go for information to upgrade their home.

The Alzheimer’s Society hopes the charter will “improve access to life-changing technology which could enable people with dementia to live independently for longer”.

There are some 800,000 people with dementia, two thirds of whom live in their own homes, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. They are cared for by over 600,000 people,

However, the Society believes more could be done to increase the use of assistive technology and to improve its accessibility and usability.

The Alzheimer’s Society put together a task force headed by Ali Rogan of Tunstall Healthcare, to produce the charter, which came in response to the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge, an effort to improve the care and treatment of people with dementia.

“We all recognise the need among people with dementia is accelerating at an extraordinary rate,” said Graham Coiley, council member of the British Assistive Technology Association and a taskforce member. “Technology is getting better but people don’t really know it is there.”

The charter lists a wide variety of sensors, detectors, pagers, telecare systems and apps that remind people with dementia to do things and alert carers to situations that may need their intervention..

Technology can be used to help people with dementia keep in touch with their families as well as recording information about themselves to help those that provide care and support understand them better.

Case studies provide examples of the technologies that might help people in particular situations and provide professionals with key questions to ask.

The charter identifies three important aims of technology: to keep people with dementia safe, to improve their health and enhance their lives.

“Assistive technology should not be seen as a 'quick fix' for people with dementia, or used as a replacement for human interaction and care for people with dementia,” explains Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society.

“Rather, assistive technology should be seen in the context of complementing an individual's care and support to enhance their quality of life.”

The statutory right to an assessment should always include a consideration for dementia friendly technology, says the Alzheimer’s Society.

The task force that produced the charter was disappointed dementia did not win the £10m Longtitude Prize that would have funded research in the area for the next five years.

The development of new technologies to revolutionise care for people with dementia was one of six challenges the public voted on following a BBC Horizon programme.

Recommendations for those who buy and provide services

• The statutory right to a social care assessment should always include a consideration for dementia-friendly technology.

• A single, simple to use and regularly updated online resource detailing dementia-friendly technology should be developed.

• All commissioners and providers should develop accessible and easy to find information that lists where dementia friendly technology is available in their local area.

• Technology providers should take into account the specific needs of people with dementia when developing care services that use technology.

The Dementia-friendly charter can be dowloaded here