Designers create new products for dementia sufferers

Bath charity sees increased interest in dementia-friendly clock and music player

The Day Clock has been designed to help people with dementia

Innovative new products created by Bath-based charity, Designability, are helping people with dementia to live independently in their homes.

The charity, based at Royal United Hospital Bath, researches and develops a number of products, not just for people with dementia.

Over time, it has seen a rise in demand for products assisting people with dementia, including its Day Clock and Simple Music Player.

Dr Hazel Boyd, user interface engineer at Designability, said the charity aims to tackle two core symptoms of dementia: the loss of short term memory and time orientation problems.

She added: "Time orientation problems can be very distressing and can cause a lot of repeated questions for the person with dementia because they can't be sure what time of the day it is.

Some of the products look incredibly simple, but we have put a lot of work into not adding features that don't actually help

"It's the main reason why people with dementia often get found trying to go to the shops in the middle of the night.

The Day Clock provides a display screen that can be used to check what day it is, and what time of day it is. As part of the design process, Designability gave out Day Clocks to people with dementia so they could borrow them and give feedback.

Designability has also designed a Simple Music Player that starts playing when you lift the lid and stops when you close it. It uses MP3 tracks that have been pre-programmed and has one button to change the tracks.

Dr Boyd said: "We have a mixed team that includes engineers and occupational therapists and we design things that we know suit the users.

"Some of the products look incredibly simple, but we have put a lot of work into not adding features that don't actually help.

We have a mixed team that includes engineers and occupational therapists and we design things that we know suit the users

"We test all sorts of things and we only put in ones we believe are useful for that person because you can so easily confuse someone. I think more people are looking for these products now.

"I think there's less of a taboo around dementia because it's more visible in the press and the numbers of people with dementia are going up. Certainly the need is going up and we're selling more."

The Simple Music Player

Companies