A new study has found that when used correctly, tablets such as iPads can enhance the lives of people in care homes with dementia

They may be the very height of technology these days, but that doesn’t mean they can’t form a useful part of dementia care.

That’s what researchers at the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester were looking to find out. Working with Care home company Anchor, iPads were sent out to 75 per cent of their care homes to look at how they could help.

‘This is the first time we’ve seen iPads introduced within care settings in this kind of comprehensive, considered way and at this scale,’ says lead researcher Dr Simon Evans from Worcester University.

The study found that alongside useful apps, care home staff used the tablets to reassure, interest and engage residents. Music apps and games such as Pictionary were particularly beneficial for bringing residents, staff and visitors together.

The study found that almost half of staff noticed that iPads encouraged the person with dementia to interact more with family members.

They were also useful tools to help calm residents with dementia who became restless and distressed. The researchers cited one case study where a resident had become agitated and wanted to return to their previous home. Staff used the iPad to look up where the resident had lived and show them pictures of their house and surrounding area. This helped to settle the resident and triggered conversations and positive memories.

‘Central to our findings is that just having the technology present isn’t enough,’ says Dr Evans. ‘The key is how the iPads are introduced and used and the training and support provided to staff to make the most of their potential to enhance quality of life. If used in the right way, iPads can make a big difference to people living with dementia.’

For more tips on what gadgets can help memory loss, click here. For tips on visiting someone in a care home, including activities, click here.