John Ramsay explains how an innovative light display product, created by a Dutch inventor is helping to engage people with dementia

I quit life as a corporate lawyer last year and having watched my father live with Alzheimer’s during my childhood I wanted to focus on improving the quality of life of those living with dementia. Luckily enough my Dutch friend Hester Le Riche had invented an exciting new product: The Tovertafel.

Tovertafel (which means Magic Table in English) is a game for people with moderate to severe dementia, encouraging them to instinctively participate in order to stimulate both physical and social activity. The games consist of interactive light animations which are projected on any table and which motivate the mind and inspire those living with dementia to be active. The Tovertafel was developed during the ongoing PhD research of Hester in collaboration with dementia care homes in Holland and therefore closely matches their needs and capabilities. As founder of Shift 8, which represents Tovertafel in the UK, I'm keen to share this amazing product with people in this country.

Our motto is simple: We believe that everyone has the right to play.

Whether young or old, male or female, disabled, suffering a short or long term illness or in recovery, playing is much more than just having fun; it is paramount for our mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Unfortunately, this is not always easy, especially for those that face hard challenges in life. Our ethos is therefore to be as open as possible and invite everybody to play with the Tovertafel games.

Our mission is to take part in the world of games and develop this for diverse groups of people. We currently have games for people living with dementia (Tovertafel Original) and adults with severe learning difficulties (Tovertafel Up). We are also developing new games for children with autism which will hopefully be launching towards the end of the year (Tovertafel Unique).

Following a co-design approach, we work in close collaboration with our target groups, and everybody in their direct surroundings, to develop games that perfectly match their specific requirements and wishes. Our games should not only enlighten their daily life, but also contribute to their health and personal development.

We further want to share our experiences and insights derived from this co-design course so that we can inform other designers, and inspire them to start designing for, and with, these groups of people.

To order a Tovertafel - please click here or call John on 07533386386.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of the table.

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