New NI app launched for dementia patients and their families

  • A free new app to help dementia patients create a digital memory book has been launched by Northern Ireland developers, including researchers from Ulster University and the Belfast School of Art.

    The InspireD app enables people living with dementia, their carers and families to store photographs, videos and sounds; aimed at sparking conversations and providing opportunities to share experiences and maintain relationships.

    Many people living with dementia have problems with their short-term memory and find it easier to remember things about their past.

    InspireD aims to draw on this strength by supporting people to share their life experiences, memories and stories to maintain and build connections with other people.

    Users can also add written or voice notes about photographs, music and film clips so that family, friends and carers understand why a particular memory or time is special. 

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    The development of the InspireD app builds on previously published research carried out by Ulster University which investigated the impact of a personalised reminiscence programme, using an iPad app for 60 people living with dementia, their family and carers.

    The study showed that reminiscence improved mood, wellbeing, quality of life and relationships for people living with dementia.

    Assumpta Ryan, Professor of Ageing and Health at Ulster University and InspireD app project lead said: “This truly collaborative project brought together Ulster’s research expertise in Nursing, Computing and Design with the lived experience of Dementia NI members and local app developer Scaffold Digital to create an app which has the power to enhance the lives of those living with dementia.

    “Spending time with friends and family and sharing experiences and memories is something most of us enjoy and this does not change after a dementia diagnosis.

    "The InspireD app is designed to help people living with dementia to stay connected to family and friends by using photographs, sounds and videos to share memories and trigger conversations that may not otherwise have happened.”

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    Dementia NI member Davie McElhinney was diagnosed with dementia four years ago. He has been using app over the past few weeks.

    “I have been uploading lots of photographs on the app and it has been really useful for me," he said.

    "I really enjoy looking at photographs; I find it very calming, and they help me remember places I have been and people I’ve met.

    “There is one particular photo from when my son and daughter were very young on a beach.

    "When I look at the photograph I can remember that it was a really warm day and that we had a fantastic time. When I look at it, it brings back that memory, I can smell the sea and I can remember the great day we had.

    “The app is a real benefit to me and I hope it’s going to benefit lots of other people living with dementia.”

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    The InspireD app was commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board NI as part of a wider Dementia eHealth and Data Analytics Pathfinder Programme. The app is freely available for smartphones and tablets on the HSC Apps4Dementia library as part of its ongoing activities to increase the uptake of technology in supporting people living with dementia.

    Soo Hun, Digital Health & Care NI (DHCNI) Innovation and Digital Eco-system lead added: “There is growing interest in digital solutions such as mobile apps to support not just those people living with dementia but also their carers, families and friends.

    "Working collaboratively with Ulster University, the InspireD App is part of a wider digital transformation programme in health and social care which is being led by DHCNI with the support of the Department of Health.

    "The overall aim is to embed clinically assured digital solutions that have been checked for data privacy and security into our clinical pathways.”

    Although designed primarily for people living with dementia, their families and carers, the app will be of interest to anybody interested in reminiscence including friends and health or social care staff across a range of care settings.

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    To find out more about the app please visit:

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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