Often motivated by a personal experience, Britain has lots of dementia carers, entrepreneurs and designers creating clever solutions to the daily challenges they or their loved ones have experienced. From high tech devices to simple solutions, here’s our pick of Great British dementia Innovation:
Remember I’m me, and My Care Matters
After a bad experience when her husband went into respite care, Zoe Harris was struck by how difficult it could be to get information across to staff of his preferences and personality, leading to poor quality of care. Her initial idea was the ‘Remember I’m Me’ wall chart, a wipe clean chart that could be hung in a resident’s room and list such details as the names of family members, how they like their tea, and what their favourite TV programmes are.
This product proved so popular in helping care home staff to treat all their residents as individuals that Zoe has taken it one step further and developed the ‘mycarematters’ system, a web platform where similar information can be recorded to be passed on to health care professionals wherever they may be. We think both of these products perfectly illustrate how a challenge can be solved through low tech and high tech means, and both have been widely recognised through a number of awards. You can read more about Zoe’s story here.
Utilising both her experience in the fragrance industry and caring for her mother with Vascular Dementia, Linda Harman set up ReminiScent, a company focusing on products that make it easy to use scent in reminiscence and other forms of sensory therapy. Their Smell and Connect use innovative scent technology cards to evoke happy life experiences in those who may otherwise be reticent and angry. You can read more about Linda’s story here.
Many Happy Returns Chatterbox Cards
Launched in 2008, Chatterbox Cards were one of the first products designed to make life better for those living with dementia and their carers. Sarah Reed created them after caring for her mother who had Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia, using iconic images from the 1940s and 50s across two packs of 26 cards to help make sharing memories and conversation between generations easy. You can learn more about Sarah and Chatterbox Cards here.
Learning from his experience when feeling disconnected from his nan and powerless to help after she developed dementia, Matthew Henderson and his mum put together the Our Lives book. It contains images and facts across a range of subjects from the 1940s to the 1980s and aims to make it easier for other families to reminisce with their loved ones when going through the same experiences that Matthew did. Learn more about Matthew’s story here.
After seeing the struggles her mother, a professional dementia carer, faced when out and about, Natalie Price develop Proximity. Proximity is a small button device which can alert a carer via their smart phone if the person with dementia wanders off. We think this is a great simple solution and a good low-cost alternative to a GPS tracker if you face these issues with your loved ones. You can order one here, or read more about Natalie’s story here.
Seeing his grandfather’s carers resort to children’s toys when he was no longer able to cope with more complex games and puzzles, Ben Atkinson-Wilkes was inspired to create a range of jigsaws specifically suited to the needs of those living with dementia, with subjects that would interest them. These jigsaws were the first product launched by Active Minds, which has since gone on to create a whole range of activities and puzzles for those living with dementia. Active Minds products are among the most well thought out and beautifully designed that we sell, and we think Ben and his team have done a great job at raising the bar for dementia products. Read more about Ben’s story here.
Hearing of the issues one of his patients had with cleaning her mother’s teeth, NHS Dental Consultant Professor Raman Bedi invented the Bedi Shield, a simple finger support that allows both head control and the individual’s mouth to be comfortably supported during teeth cleaning. Refining the design in 2015 to make them optimal for people with dementia, Professor Bedi plans to eventually expand the range to include a number of products for dementia oral care. Learn more about the origins of the Bedi Shield here.
Designability is a charity founded in 1968 by inventor and engineer Bevan Horstmann and local consultant surgeon Kenneth Lloyd-Williams. With the initial aim of creating medical devices that could really make a difference to people’s lives, Designability turned its focus to dementia in the early 2000s, and its user- centred design process has been responsible for the development of The Day Clock, Simple Music Player and the One Button Radio amongst many other products. Read their story here.
These are some of the British dementia innovations we know and love, but what have we missed? Do you know someone who is working away in their garage or garden shed on the next big thing to help people live better with dementia? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook group, which you can join here.