While there is much academic research into developing a range of assistive technology devices to support people with dementia, and many of these ideas work well in the laboratory, these projects sometimes prove less successful when implemented in the home.
Reasons for this may include inappropriate design, lack of training or difficulty with using equipment. More work needs to be done to find out why assistive technology may be rejected as an option, even when it has been proved to be of benefit.
Two workshops took place, attended by Canadian and UK researchers in the field of assistive technology for people with dementia. The first workshop was held in Toronto, Canada in October 2008 and the second in Bath in March 2009. The aim of these workshops was to identify what are the barriers to the implementation of assistive technology for people with dementia in their own homes, and to formulate proposals for collaborative research to solve the problems.
The intention of these meetings was to be broad in scope and expertise to ensure their being able to address the full implementation chain from initial idea through to large-scale adoption by formal and informal care providers.
The aim was to make a portfolio of new, effective, proven and supported products available to people with dementia and their carers through effective and supported channels.
The workshops successfully identified key challenges in implementing assistive technology for people with dementia, including workforce training and development, commercialisation of research into products, creating a robust evidence base, and the need for appropriate outcome measures.
Seven collaborative project proposals to address these issues were drafted as a result of the workshops, for which funding is sought in Canada and the UK.