A fragrance-release system designed to stimulate appetite, specially-trained ‘guide dogs for the mind’, and an intelligent wristband that supports people with dementia to stay active safely, are just some of the design prototypes to help people live well with dementia unveiled by Care Services Minister Paul Burstow at the Design Council today.
The ground breaking designs will help to achieve some of the commitments the Prime Minister recently announced in his challenge on dementia.
The Design Council, in partnership with the Department of Health, ran a national competition to find teams of designers and experts who could develop new ideas to help improve the lives of those affected by dementia. Guided by in-depth research and working with those affected by dementia, the five teams developed the innovative concepts for products and services. The resulting prototypes will be further tested and developed with commercial partners with the aim of making some or all of them available on a large scale as soon as possible.
The five designs unveiled today are:
- buddiband– a discrete wristband which uses cutting edge technology to keep carers informed of the welfare of the wearer, and respond if needed
- Dementia Dog– a new approach that trains specially-selected assistance dogs to help and protect the wellbeing of people with dementia
- Grouple– an online network which helps families plan and share care, engaging a wider support circle.
- Trading Times – a website to help carers find flexible employment
- A specially-built exhibition at the Design Council will showcase the new prototypes on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 April.
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said:
“Fear of dementia can leave people feeling powerless and trapped, leaving them isolated and unsupported. That is why we have worked with the Design Council to drive innovation in dementia care. The five winning ideas have the potential to make a big difference for people with dementia and their families.
“The Design Council work is part of our wider drive to make our country dementia friendly. Today we go further with our partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society to challenge cities, towns and villages up and down the land to lead a revolution in how people think about dementia.
“Working with businesses, Councils, the local NHS and community groups our immediate goal is a network of 20 dementia friendly cities, towns and villages to lead the way.”
Chief Executive of the Design Council David Kester, said:
“A consequence of an ageing population is a threefold increase in dementia over the past twenty years. That means there are many millions of people who need new products and services designed to meet their changing needs. This project demonstrates that if you put the people who are living with dementia, including carers, at the centre of the design process, you end up with rapid and inspiring innovation. It’s just what we need right now – both for our local communities and for UK enterprise.”
The National Clinical Director for Dementia, Professor Alistair Burns, said:
“We’re tackling dementia on a variety of levels, and whilst research into effective treatments is progressing, it’s vital that we develop new ways to improve key aspects of life for those with the condition, and their carers. I have no doubt that the prototypes shown today could have a major positive impact on quality of life, continuity of care and the wellbeing of those with dementia.”
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said:
“These innovative products have the potential to make a big difference to the quality of life of people with dementia and their carers. They could help people feel supported and enable them to live independently for longer.
“Earlier this month, the Prime Minister threw down the gauntlet to all of us to help improve the picture for people with dementia. This competition provides one example of how this can be done. We now need to rally more people behind the cause. From the boardroom to bus drivers we all have a role to play.”
The five designs in more detail
Buddiband - A wristband personal alarm that people will be happy to wear and can send alerts from anywhere to buddi’s support services.
The buddiband is comfortable, discreet and waterproof. To avoid battery replacement and daily charging, it is fitted with the most powerful possible rechargeable battery and designed to be as power-efficient as can be.
While wearability is its greatest innovation, the device also offers more functionality than any other on the market:
- Manual emergency alert:Responses handled by buddi’s 24/7 emergency response centre.
- Automatic fall alert: If a user has a fall the wristband detects it and calls for assistance.
- Lifestyle monitoring:Detecting shifts in typical activity levels. If a user’s activity levels significantly diminish, contact is made with the user or carer.
- Online monitoring:Allowing carers to keep an eye on activity levels without being present.
- A host of further features
Dementia Dog - A service providing assistance dogs to people with dementia, helping them lead more fulfilled, independent and stress-free lives.
The dogs will be taught to support existing patterns of waking, sleeping and eating for people with dementia. Through responding to sound alerts they can also help with regular hydration, medication and toilet use. In the early stages, reminders may not be necessary, but if they begin immediately it will mean the routine is established when the need arises. Dogs can also be trained to provide orientation outside the home.
People with dementia can have widely differing needs, depending both on their symptoms and their individual lifestyles. The service takes account of this, employing service design user research methods to build a detailed picture of each individual’s needs so the dog can be trained appropriately. Ultimately, each dog will be trained with the person with dementia and their carer so all three can operate as a team.
Grouple – A secure, private online social network helping people share the responsibilities of caring for someone with dementia, including visits, appointments, observations and questions.
At the centre of each Grouple hub is a timeline. Members can post items such as visits, appointments, observations and questions, quickly seeing and filling in gaps in the schedule. Care decisions can easily be discussed and informed by everyone’s observations. Printed reports can also be created based on timeline content. This will assist medical professionals and help update family members who are offline.
Many carers are uncomfortable with computers, so Grouple has been designed to be as simple, attractive and intuitive as possible. Members of a care network easily post their schedules, ideas and experiences of caring, dividing responsibilities and coordinating efforts to provide consistent and regular care without one single person being overburdened.
ode – A fragrance-release system designed to stimulate appetite among people with dementia. The mains-powered unit releases three food fragrances a day, adjustable to coincide with the user’s mealtimes.
Scents have been developed specially for ode, in conjunction with a leading fragrance laboratory and in response to workshop feedback. Users can choose their preferred scents at installation. Fragrances are released in short sharp bursts, acting as a strong appetite trigger and then dissipating rapidly so users won’t become inured to the effect.
A subtle light indicates the device is working and also communicates when fragrances need refilling.
Trading Times - An online service that matches carers with local businesses for flexible paid work. It is free to carers and paid for on a transactional basis by employers.
The Trading Times website will provide a rich and supportive environment with a full range of tools and templates to assist both carers and employers. These include an email helpline, carer chat forums, success stories and a guidance library. Carers and employers will also be able to add performance-related feedback to each other’s profiles.
Carers will complete a simple profile describing their work skills and enter the number of hours they think they can work. A local community manager will welcome every new carer with a telephone call to help them on their way. Employers will either post short job adverts or search for local carers with relevant profiles.