Boffins to develop software to help those with dementia

City University London is developing new software which could help people with dementia.

It has been designed to foster creative problem solving and collaboration amongst care workers working with those with the illness.

A team at City’s Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice is working with the Registered Nursing Home Association as part of MIRROR.

This is a €6.45m research and development project sponsored by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme, which aims to help employees reflect on their performance, share their experiences, solve problems more creatively, and work together to develop best practice against the disease.

Professor Neil Maiden, head of the centre, who will lead the research, said: “Caring for people with dementia is incredibly difficult, because each case is unique and can change quickly.  

“We hope to make it easier for carers to deal with the problems they encounter, by helping them learn from previous situations, and apply their own and their colleagues’ knowledge in new ways.”

The project, which will run for four years, has Professor Maiden and his team working closely with two care homes. Here they will evaluate their needs and design a set of applications and  hardware that can be incorporated into a working environment.

They said part of this, for example, could involve a carer using a digital pen to capture a resident’s details quickly, easily and remotely, before sharing the data with a colleague who could devise a treatment based on a prior, similar experience.

“Many organisations encourage their workforce to be more creative, but forget to put resources in place to cultivate innovation,” said Maiden. “Our aim is to develop practical tools that carers can use in their day-to-day work, to develop fresh ideas, put them into practice and record if they were successful.”

City University London is just one of 15 academic and commercial organisations working on the MIRROR project across Europe. Alongside UK care homes others trailing the service include emergency services in Italy for stroke care.