Dementia charter highlights role of technology

Guidance shows how assistive technology can help dementia sufferers to stay at home for longer

The aim of the charter is to support people with dementia to live independently in their own homes for longer

Dementia sufferers and their carers are to be given information about how assistive technologies could help people live independently at home for longer.

The news comes after a YouGov poll commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Society revealed that 85% of people want to stay living at home for as long as possible after being diagnosed with dementia. But the study also revealed that a third of the general public do not know where to find information about how to adapt their property to make it suitable.

This first-ever charter will help inform people how they can access and use technology in their own lives while assisting professionals working in dementia so they have good understanding of technology and how it can benefit people living with the condition

Last week the society launched a landmark guide aimed at helping to improve access to life-changing technology which could enable people with dementia to live independently for longer.

The Dementia-Friendly Technology Charter has been produced as part of the dementia-friendly communities strand of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia. The charter, developed by a diverse working group led by Tunstall Healthcare, gives people with dementia and their carers, information on how to access technology. It also provides guidance to health, housing and social care professionals on how to make technology work for people based on their individual needs.

Assistive technology includes products and modifications to the home that can make life easier and safer for people with dementia. If used in the right way it has the potential to increase independence and autonomy both for the person with dementia and those around them.

Natasha Cooper, 45, from Staffordshire, used an online activity monitoring system to support her father, John, to continue living in his own home after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

She said: “Dad was quite happy living on his own in his apartment as he knew where everything was and felt confident being there alone, but I wanted to know he was safe. I heard about the system at an Alzheimer’s Society conference and decided to give it a go as it meant I could check dad’s activity patterns and recognise any marked changes which might need investigating. Having the technology in place gave me peace of mind that dad was safe and he was able to continue living an active, independent and full life in his own home until he passed away.”

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at the Alzheimer’s Society, added: “Technology can be invaluable in enabling people with dementia to live independently for longer, empowering people with the condition to stay at home while reducing stress and worry for carers concerned about the safety and comfort of loved ones with dementia.

“This first-ever charter will help inform people how they can access and use technology in their own lives while assisting professionals working in dementia so they have good understanding of technology and how it can benefit people living with the condition.”

There are thousands of individuals out there who are missing out on potentially life-changing technology-enabled care services

And Ali Rogan, external affairs director at Tunstall Healthcare and chairman of the working group, told BBH: “While not a solution for everyone, technology can work in a variety of ways to manage risks, assist with management of health conditions and support carers. There are thousands of individuals out there who are missing out on potentially life-changing technology-enabled care services. A key objective of the charter is how we can improve access. Everyone should have a right to an assessment for technology appropriate to their needs.”

The charter comes one week before the public vote for the Longitude Prize 2014, closes, with the potential for £10m to develop new technologies that revolutionise care for people with dementia. Dementia is one of six challenges the public can vote for, with the winner receiving a £10m prize fund and up to five years support to find a solution.

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