To ensure social inclusion for people with dementia (PwD), their informal caregivers (ICs), such as family members, have an important role in supporting interactions, a responsibility that only grows as the disease progresses. As dementia affects communication skills and memory functions, initiating and maintaining conversations can become increasingly difficult for the IC. This can have a significant negative impact on relationship quality and social health as meaningful social interactions taper. The role of technology in promoting social health and participation for people with dementia is increasing, but the usage of such devices as a third party in social interactions to enhance communication quality is still in its infancy. In this project, we want to evaluate the potential of I-CARE; a tablet-based activation system specifically designed for PwD, offering activation contents such as games, music, stories etc., adapted to the current needs and sensitivities of the user. This is made possible by the biography filter supporting the selection of activities using machine learning models. The system is intended to be used in tandem with their conversation partner to provide a shared activity that is both engaging and meaningful. I-CARE showed great promise in the piloting study, yet, no structured assessment of the effects on social health has been conducted. By demonstrating the potential of this technology to support PwD and their ICs, this can contribute to improved dyadic social health. This will be evaluated by two components: a sequential crossover field study in waiting group design and a qualitative component by the means of in-depth interviews. The field study allows for the effects of I-CARE to be evaluated using standardised, validated measurement tools. The interviews explore the possibilities of supporting dyadic interactions in a home-based environment. Together, this mix-methods study design will provide deeper insight into future implementation.
Project leader: Viktoria Hoel
Institution: Viktoria Hoel