Using ICT in activities for people with dementia

Getting the right kit

It is important to have a reliable broadband connection for activities that use the internet. As it can be frustrating for you and the person with dementia if your connection is slow or keeps breaking up.

The ICT kit you need depends on the activities you want to do. We have listed the main types available in the table below, examples of the activities they are best suited for and the benefits and challenges of using them. The Further resources section has a list of organisations that can give you advice and support on choosing the right ICT kit.

Benefits and challenges of different types of ICT kit

Type of kit

Desktop computer with mouse and keyboard

Laptop computer

Tablet computer

Games console

Good for
  • Accessing the internet
  • Word processing (creating and editing text documents – e.g. writing letters)
  • Making presentations
  • Viewing and editing photos
  • Printing
  • Watching TV or films online
  • Email
  • Web-based phone/video calls
  • Internet games
  • As desktop computer
  • Apps, including sensory games
  • Accessing the internet
  • Viewing and editing photos
  • Watching TV or films online
  • Email
  • Web-based phone/video calls
  • Internet games
  • Drawing
  • Multi-player games and activities
  • Physical activities
Pros
  • Easy to print from
  • Can be used for group work with a larger screen
  • Portable
  • Very portable
  • Touchscreen technology more intuitive than a keyboard and mouse
  • Can be used by people with quite severe cognitive and motor impairments
  • Enables physical involvement, for example Wii, XBox Kinect
  • Can be used by individuals or groups and can be a spectator sport
Cons
  • Hard to move around locations
  • Less intuitive to use than touchscreen technology
  • Keyboard and mouse require good manual dexterity
  • Smaller screen than desktop
  • Screen hard to read in bright light
  • Can have short battery life
  • Hard to print from
  • Hard to type on (wireless keyboards can help)
  • Can be heavy (putting a cushion under it can help)
  • Screen hard to read in bright light
  • Limited functions
  • Needs a large screen TV with some floor space in front of it
One-to-one use
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
Group use
  • If screen is large enough
  • Not unless hooked up to a projector,
    TV or speakers
  • Not unless hooked up to a projector,
    TV or speakers
  • Yes

Getting connected

Some activities need an internet connection and others don’t. It is important to have a reliable broadband connection for activities that use the internet, as it can be frustrating for you and the person with dementia if your connection is slow or keeps breaking up. You can get a broadband connection through cables or wireless. Wireless is more flexible but does not always work well in some larger or older buildings. You can also use a ‘dongle’ which connects an individual computer to the internet as and when you need it. These kinds of solutions don’t work so well in areas where mobile phone signals are weak however, and they are usually too slow for downloading videos or films.

Advice on technology issues

The ICT Knowledgebase website, run by technology charity Lasa, is a good source of independent advice on all sorts of computer matters. It is aimed at third sector organisations, so the advice is suitable for most small- and medium-sized enterprises.

If you are working with people who need specialist equipment to access ICTs, for example a trackball (a kind of mouse), large keyboards or a ‘speaking browser’ for people with a visual impairments, you can get information and advice from AbilityNet. It also has factsheets about how to make standard equipment as accessible as possible.