Finalist category: Digital Health Award 2014
Formed in 2009 Alive! activities has pioneered the use of touch screen technology to improve care home residents’ mental and emotional wellbeing. Beneficiaries are people who are very old, often with dementia, physical and/or learning disabilities, brain injury or degenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease.
iPads are intuitive and, with support, easy for older people to use, enabling sessions to be truly user-led as residents can choose an activity, take a workshop in a new direction, or express themselves creatively.
Alive! offers a range of interactive workshops using iPads and the internet, each of which can be adapted to suit different abilities and preferences. Guided Reminiscence brings older people’s memories to life. In a small group, each person will be encouraged to delve into their memories via access to the internet – perhaps a request to see their old school, an aspect of their work or to hear a favourite piece of music.
Care staff get to know more about the interests, personalities and histories of those in their charge and can use this information with residents outside of an Alive! session to perhaps reach them in moments of depression, diffuse a stressful situation or simply to make them smile. Residents also get to know each other better and have more to talk about with visitors.
iPads provide a versatile gateway to finding internet resources of interest to individuals – tapping into life interests and aspects of a person’s unique history for people who have lost their sense of identity. Reconnecting in this way boosts self-esteem and helps people to feel valued once again. Additionally they train care staff to use the iPad and internet with their residents, thereby extending the benefits to improve memory and emotional wellbeing well beyond an Alive! session.