Learning to live better with dementia through technology: new apps piloted today connect those affected by dementia and researchers

A person with dementia using the Book of You app.A person with dementia using the Book of You app.A project supported by Bangor University is one of two to be adopted for a new initiative to support people with dementia and their carers.

The Book of You research app, developed by Book of You CIC (community interest company) and Bangor University is one of two new apps to be piloted by the innovation foundation Nesta as part of its Dementia Citizens  project. The charity are now seeking 500 people to use the apps in a three month study.

Few doubt the scale of the challenge posed by dementia, yet there is no cure and so accelerating research into prevention and care is crucial. Harnessing digital technology will help researchers understand and address key issues in care. The new initiative will connect those with dementia, and carers, with researchers.

Through the apps, people with dementia and their carers can enjoy shared activities such as listening to music or creating a digital photo story book while also completing well-being surveys. Specialist researchers can then use the everyday data produced by these activities to spot patterns, understand care interventions and produce evidence-based recommendations.

Professor Bob Woods, Dementia Services Development Centre Wales, Bangor University said:

“Research teams working in the dementia care field are excited about the potential of the Dementia Citizens platform to engage with and involve people living with dementia and their supporters in a range of research studies that could improve understanding of the condition and quality of life. Our team at Bangor University has been delighted to participate in the first wave of projects, enabling us to extend our research on life story books, which we believe could be a powerful tool to help people with dementia maintain their identity and improve communication and relationships with those assisting them. We welcome the Dementia Citizens platform as a landmark step forward in the battle to defeat dementia.”

John Loder, head of strategy, Health Lab, Nesta said: “This is an ambitious project that brings two spheres of work together in a way that is urgently needed. Digitally-enabled and patient-led research like this not only contributes positively to the social and quality of life of the person living with dementia and their carers, but can provide crucial insights into improving care.”

Supported by the Department of Health, Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Research UK, Dementia Citizens offers a low-cost alternative for researchers looking to conduct research at scale by providing easy access to open datasets and digital toolkits. Users of the apps during the next three months will help develop the technology and improve the user experience for people affected by dementia. 

Compatible with iOS smartphones and tablets (iPhone, iPads, iPod Touch), app development comes from research partners Bangor University and Glasgow Caledonian University. To sign up to the app, visit www.dementiacitizens.org/book-of-you

Publication date: 2 August 2016