Using computers and ICT to support people with dementia: New guide from SCIE

Press Releases

31 Oct 2012

A new guide is launched today which supports computer activities for people with dementia . It helps care managers and their staff to use information and communication technology (ICT) to improve quality of life for their clients. The plain-language guide means that professionals who use it do not need to be technically-minded.

The guide is published by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), who hope it will be useful to those who are new to the topic as well as to those who already have some experience of using ICT in dementia support.

There are nine useful sections on the web-based tool, ranging from getting the right kit through to using ICT in reminiscence and life story activities. For instance, the resource provides a table that suggests which types of equipment, such as laptop computers or games consoles, are best for use in the various different activities and the pros and cons of the various options.

SCIE's Workforce Director Stephen Goulder says:

‘For care staff and people with dementia, this guide is invaluable. So much can be achieved these days with computers and ICT. However, some may feel that, because they're not at a desk very often, then ICT is for others to use. The new guide shows how someone with dementia can be supported to use computers for meaningful activities. Whether it's playing a game on the internet, finding old songs or using ICT in group reminiscence sessions, computers can make a real difference to people's lives when living with dementia.’

The guide was based on research carried out by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES). Ben Hicks, who led the research for the guide says:

‘The most important thing is to use the technology as a tool to help with the sorts of activities people with dementia would normally be involved in. The ICT is there to make these activities easier. It's important that the technology should not be the focus or people can get worried.’

The guide is packed with a range of suggestions for using the technology to improve people's lives. While the guide was compiled with the needs of staff working with people with dementia in mind, those who tested the guide for SCIE felt that it was of much wider value within the care community.

Linda Miller, Senior Research Fellow at IES says:

‘After some of the negative care stories that have been making headlines in recent weeks it was wonderful to hear these accounts from people who are dedicated to improving the lives of elderly and vulnerable people. Their experiences have been central to making this a guide that can really help the care sector make the most of these technologies.’

IT and communications technologies are here to stay and this guide will help any care manager who wants to start using them to improve quality of life for their clients.

Example - Keeping in touch

One section looks at how people with dementia can use ICT to use email and internet phone services. This is great for people staying in contact with friends and relatives; pictures can be sent, the address book function means that addresses do not have to be remembered and people can use SKYPE and other systems to contact family all over the world. They can see the other person, as well as hear their voice. This can be great for communication with friends or family who are geographically far away. The section contains tips for successful communication and goes on to suggest how people can start using social media.

Other sections describe how the technology can help make existing activities easier and more interactive. The guide was compiled using information provided by organisations in the care sector who are already successfully using these technologies. Sometimes just little things can make a big difference: using the web to find pictures from the past or using an iPad to provide a customised audio soundtrack for day care users.

Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Social Care Institute for Excellence | T: 020 7024 7733 | Mobile: 07739 458 192 | W: www.scie.org.uk | Fifth floor, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5BH

Linda Miller | Senior Research Fellow | Institute for Employment Studies | T: 020 7104 2076 | Mobile: 07884 233 150 | W: www.employment-studies.co.uk | Watergate House 13 - 15 York Buildings, London WC2N 6J

Lorna Howes, Information Manager, Institute for Employment Studies: lorna.howes@employment-studies.co.uk T: 01273 763414

Notes to editors

The guide: Using ICT in activities for people with dementia

The research: Research to inform development of a guide to online activities for people with dementia

About SCIE

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) is an independent charity that works across the UK to improve care services by sharing knowledge about what works. SCIE:

  • captures, analyses and disseminates innovative approaches to new challenges
  • translates research into practical guides and learning materials
  • improves the knowledge and skills of frontline social care and social work staff, managers, commissioners and trainers
  • covers adults', families' and children's care services

Find out more at www.scie.org.uk

About the Institute for Employment Studies

The Institute for Employment Studies is the UK's leading independent, not-for-profit centre for research and evidence-based consultancy on employment, the labour market, and HR policy and practice.