Good Practice Example 01 - Improving access to ICT in adult social care setting
In November 2007, Dementia Voice-Housing21 and Innovations in Dementia CIC ran a project jointly to pilot the use of computers in day centres for people with dementia. One of the aims of the project was to develop accessible training materials for use with people with dementia based on the learning from the project. The project ended in December 2008, and has shown that people with dementia can engage in computer work at many different levels. Many organisations of this nature have little or limited access to ICT, this applies to staff or service users. The common misconception is that people with dementia cannot learn new skills, or be able to benefit from being involved in interacting with computers. which is untrue
To introduce computers and internet access into day centres for people with dementia. To work with day centre staff to test a model of working with people with dementia and computers, and to refine training materials.
The intended outcomes of the project were
- Set up pilot computer projects in two dementia specialist Housing 21 Day Centres to test the best ways of supporting people with dementia to use computers.
- Provide training and support to staff to enable them to carry out this work.
- Evaluate this process and assess outcomes for people with dementia, staff and Housing 21.
- Develop evaluation tools that are appropriate for use with people with dementia.
- Develop accessible training materials for use with people with dementia.
People with dementia using computers
- People with dementia need to be encouraged to engage with computers at a level, and with activities, that suit them.
- The key to making sure that this happens is that staff are confident in their own computer skills and have ideas on how to use basic computer programs to produce engaging outputs for people with dementia.
- It is important that people with dementia can understand that they can influence what appears on the screen. But it is not important that people with dementia are proficient in mouse or keyboard skills or that they understand how the computer works or is switched on.
- If people with dementia cannot use the mechanical interface, the skills (both technical computer skills and support skills) of staff must be strong enough to maximise the potential for user control.
- Staff must also have the ability to connect and engage with the person with dementia and communicate effectively to maximise their role as supporter and enabler, rather than leader.
- Recommendation: training is equally focused both on computer skills and on the skills necessary to facilitate people with dementia engaging with computers at any level
Use of computers within the day centre
- This project has provided the evidence that computer work is a valuable addition to day care activities. The computer is most effective when used as a tool by staff as an integral part of everyday activities in the day centre.
- Staff have been keen to stress the computer as a tool for doing other things rather than as an end in itself, and have shown great creativity in the ways in which they have integrated the computer work into the everyday life and activity of the centres.
- This ability to think creatively about the potential for computers in work with people with dementia is one which has been carefully nurtured throughout the project.
- Recommendation: training focuses on ensuring that computers are seen as a tool that can be used advantageously in a wide range of activities of the day care centre.
The project was funded by NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts).