The White Rose Dementia Collaboration was set up to bring together researchers from our three universities, in partnership with dementia practitioners and people living with the condition.
One of the new researchers active in the area is Phil Joddrell from the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH), University of Sheffield and working on the AcTo Dementia project. Facilitating independent activity has been highlighted as a research priority in dementia care as it can improve mental wellbeing and reduce the need for pharmaceutical interventions. Technology has the potential to deliver such activity, and devices featuring touchscreen interfaces are considered to be intuitive and therefore ideally suited for use by people with a dementia diagnosis.
The AcTo Dementia website (www.actodementia.com) recommends accessible touchscreen apps that can be used independently by people living with dementia. All of the apps featured on the
website have been tested using an evidence-based app selection framework by Phil and other researchers from the University of Sheffield and Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Canada. In addition to app recommendations, the site also features support guides, a community forum and information on the supporting evidence.
It is envisaged that the people who will find it the most useful are likely to be those in the earlier stages of dementia, professional and informal caregivers of a person with dementia, and other researchers or app developers with an interest in dementia care.
collaborating with people living with dementia, professional and informal caregivers and app developers
Phil says “I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of York in 2007 and went on to work as a Support Worker and later as an Assistant Psychologist in the older adult services at The Retreat, a not-for-profit provider of specialist mental health care in York. Prior to this I had not considered a career working with older adults or in dementia care, however after my first couple of shifts I realised that this was an area I really wanted to dedicate my time to and I haven’t looked back since. In 2013, I decided to make the move into research and joined the Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Group within ScHARR, working as a Research Assistant on two projects in the field of dementia care. This role gave me the confidence to successfully apply for a PhD which I commenced in September 2014.
The potential for collaboration with experts from the Universities of York and Leeds in addition to Sheffield is very appealing. In the short-term it is hoped that the White Rose Consortium can support the impact of the AcTo Dementia project by publicising and promoting the website among members. In the long-term, it is key that I consider the sustainability of this project beyond the PhD funding as there is so much more work to be done, and the support available through the White Rose Collaboration Fund could be an important resource to consider.”
Phil’s PhD is being supervised by Professor Arlene Astell (University of Sheffield) and Dr Chris Roast (Sheffield Hallam University).
And an update from Sarah K. Smith, who was funded by a White Rose Studentship
I joined the CATCH team at the end of 2014 after completing my PhD in the Health Services Research section of ScHaRR. Although, my main focus of interest remains within the topic of dementia, specifically in the creation of opportunities to enable people living with the condition to socially connect, I am committed to promoting technological engagement with older adults in general. During my PhD, I explored the varying ways that people with dementia could re-engage with past hobbies and interests or develop new interests through the use of contemporary ICT and the plethora of apps available in the app store. Many interesting findings emerged from my research but two key factors are pertinent here, firstly, people with dementia can be very able in their technology use provided with the right support, it is opportunity and experience of the technology that is lacking not the desire to engage; and second, one size does not fit all thus the choice of application/s is paramount to the person with dementia in order to meet their expressed needs and requirements.