Centre for Applied Dementia Research, University of Bradford – Written evidence (INQ0038)
Technology and people with dementia
We all use technology every day, for enjoyment and for household tasks. These ‘everyday’ technologies include home equipment such as TVs, microwaves and vacuums, as well as Wifi connected devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets. Use of the Internet to obtain services such as shopping and banking is rising and equipment to link home based equipment with the Internet (such as the Amazon Echo) are emerging. However research has shown that everyday digital technologies tend not to be designed with the older person in mind and are not always intuitive, meaning that users have to learn how to use each device individually. Maximising the potential of technology to support older people including those with dementia is recognised but poorly understood.
Research has also shown that the technology requirements of people with dementia are perceived by industry and by services to be distinct and specialist and not the business of mainstream manufacturers and the benefits of dementia-specific technology solutions are often directed at carers rather than people with the diagnosis. Nevertheless it is evident that people with dementia are using everyday technologies for a range of purposes e.g. providing reminders and assistance with getting out and about (https://whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com). Research has already found that this can be effective because phones and tablet devices can be personalised to meet individual needs. Also use of social media by people with dementia is growing (http://www.dasninternational.org; https://twitter.com/youngdementiauk).
In Bradford we held a meeting with people with dementia and supporters where some people described creative use of technology to enhance daily life. However another important discussion point was on-going difficulties with using home equipment such as microwaves and remote controls.
We propose that immediate work is required to create;
Additionally as the use of ubiquitous computing advances, work is also required to address key ethical issues such as privacy, autonomy, security, human dignity, social justice, unequal balance of power, discrimination, surveillance, benefits and unintended consequences. We therefore suggest that attention needs to be given to the following;
19 September 2019