As health boards and local authorities seek new ways to deliver services, PDR developed AbleMe an app that aims to help people with early-stage dementia to continue to participate in the activities that are important to them for a longer period of time. AbleMe helps users to coordinate their activities and care networks, offers access to guidance and support from Dementia Liaison Workers at the Alzheimer’s Society, and provides a resource for people seeking accessible services in their community.
The main question was how do you successfully replicate a reablement model digitally for someone with dementia. To answer this, the team at PDR developed a set of concepts and then prototyped these using animation to bring them to life.
Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Society show that the number of people diagnosed with dementia in Wales increased by 800 to 17,000 in 2013.
Sue Phelps, director for Alzheimer’s Society in Wales said, "less than half of people that are living with dementia in Wales aren’t receiving the support, benefits and the medical treatments that are often available.”
Commissioned by the City of Cardiff Council, with investment from Welsh Government, AbleMe is a new digital enablement service designed by PDR, in partnership with The Alzheimer’s Society, the Cardiff & Vale University Health Board and the Vale of Glamorgan Council to try and improve this situation.
AbleMe is based upon the reablement model used by Occupational Therapists, through which users are encouraged to develop, or re-develop, the skills and confidence to carry out tasks for themselves. The core of the service is an app that guides users on how to plan and keep track of their activities, coordinate them with formal and informal carers, and link them with personal goals. Members of a user’s care network can then be connected to these enablement plans, allowing them to coordinate their own involvement more easily and providing reassurance for remote carers by helping them to stay connected with the user.
AbleMe looks to replicate the services for people with dementia assisted by occupational health, physio and nursing teams daily. It also aims to provide users with support and guidance for managing their dementia, by allowing them to schedule monthly videoconferences with a dementia service worker, and to pose questions through the in-app messaging system.
In order to develop AbleMe, the team at PDR had to fully understand the day-to-day situation for people living with dementia. Workshops were held involving staff, carers and those with dementia and time was spent researching reablement models from other organisations. The team were also involved in a dementia task force meeting (which is part of the wider strategy in the region) allowing them to immerse themselves in the reality of the situation.
PROTOTYPING THE SERVICE
Different scenarios were set up during the workshops in the UCD lab at PDR. Off the back of these workshops, the team developed initial wireframes and prototypes of the app itself as well as supporting material such as toolkits and guidance documents.
The next step was to set up a 6 week pilot project in the UK and over this time, participants were provided with tablets and were asked to take part in four short interviews. This pilot allowed the team at PDR to find out how the participants were using the AbleMe service and how it could be improved. The users were also asked to complete a short survey about the service at the conclusion of the study.
AbleMe provides users with the ability to easily set up a care network. This need was identified in the feedback from users as a key benefit allowing remote carers to support friends and family with dementia better.
The team at PDR are now looking at how AbleMe can be developed further and how it could be applied to other areas. For example, human resource services, stroke rehabilitation, care homes etc.
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