Phil Joddrell, one of the founders of AcTo Dementia, explains their mission to find accessible touchscreen apps for people living with dementia
More and more frequently we are hearing that professional carers and families directly affected by dementia are turning to touchscreen tablet devices as a way to engage and entertain people living with dementia. However, out of the box these devices are quite limited, and heavily rely on the apps downloaded to them. When you consider that there are more than 2 million apps in market-leading online stores, the vast majority of which are not designed for people with cognitive impairment, it becomes clear that there’s a very real need for someone to identify suitable, accessible apps that people with dementia can really enjoy.
This is what the AcTo Dementia project is all about. We want to make touchscreen apps more accessible for people with dementia. In order to achieve this, we are working with people living with dementia, professional and informal caregivers and app developers themselves.
The AcTo Dementia project has four key goals:
1-Identify key features within touchscreen apps that increase their accessibility for people with dementia
2-Develop a way to find the most accessible existing apps for people with dementia
3-Work with app developers to improve the accessibility of existing apps for people with dementia
4-Share app recommendations with people who have dementia and professional and family caregivers on a dedicated website
The primary focus of the AcTo Dementia website (www.actodementia.com) is to share all of our recommendations for accessible touchscreen apps. The website has been designed to be easy to navigate whilst providing useful and relevant information to people who are interested in this topic. It is hoped 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 (at any stage), and other researchers or app developers with an interest in dementia care. In addition to app recommendations, the site also features support guides, a community forum and information relating to the supporting evidence.
How it worked for George
George is a resident in an extra-care facility located in Sheffield. One of our researchers, who was testing touchscreen apps, visited him. Prior to this visit George had never used a touchscreen tablet device. He ended up playing a novel game called Bubble Explode as part of a research project and became so interested in the game that he continued to play long after the research was completed, and eventually his family supported him to purchase his own tablet so that he could spend some of his leisure time playing Bubble Explode. It is unlikely that George would have discovered his interest in such a modern puzzle game without the AcTo Dementia recommendation, and the project takes pride in the fact that it makes no assumptions about the types of games or apps in which people living with dementia might develop an interest.