Digital consultancy tool dementia, a website with practical tips for home modifications in dementia

Digital consultancy tool dementia
a website with practical tips for home modifications in dementia

Duration: September 2009 to April 2011
Supervision: dr H.S.M. Kort, Chair Demand Driven Care
Researcher: dr.ir. Joost van Hoof Eur Ing
Projectmanager: drs S. Barends

Motivation

About two thirds of the 230,000 people with dementia in The Netherlands live at home. As a result of demographic trends in the coming decades, this figure is expected to increase. The majority of these people want to stay living in their own home for as long as possible, whether they live alone or with a spouse.
People with dementia are no longer able to adapt to the environment. Therefore, it is necessary to adapt the environment to the needs of people dementia. Dementia may go together with confusion, anxiety, forgetfulness, disorientation and wandering. This may make admission to a nursing home desirable or necessary. But admission may often be postponed by modifying the dwelling. For instance, by making small changes to the dwelling (a modified bathroom), changes to the arrangement (moving furniture), and the simplification of tasks (not too many choices given). With the use of technology (alarm systems using sensor technology) it is also possible, whether or not remotely, to keep an eye on the person with dementia in order to take direct action if necessary for reasons of safety and security.
Many admissions to nursing homes are caused by stress and an overstraining of the family carers, especially partners. Caring for a person with dementia requires constant vigilance. That is so exhausting that admission is often the only solution while the people in question actually prefer to stay together in their own homes.

Purpose

There are two objectives of the project:

1. Realisation of a Digital Consultancy Tool for home modifications for dementia.
Housing or home modifications for older people are rarely focused on the specific requirements for dementia. Research has yielded data on how to adapt dwellings according to the symptoms and risks of dementia. Over the years, various practical information has been developed but until now it was not possible to directly give people advice in terms of housing and technology. Through the Digital Consulting Tool insights from different disciplines are brought together and are tailored to the specific problems and needs associated with dementia.

2. Increasing the knowledge of healthcare professionals and the housing sector with regard to the specific requirements for home modifications for people with dementia in order to meet the needs of these people and their partners.
Utrecht University of Applied Sciences is working on deepening the knowledge, partly in response to the questions the digital consultancy tool receives and the experience gained with the different `products’ that are offered. Compared with the professional institutions, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences can lead the further development of interdisciplinary knowledge about the relationship between human behaviour and modifications, and utilising this knowledge by SMEs. Finally, through the Dutch Alzheimer Society (Alzheimer Nederland), knowledge is direct available to people with dementia. In addition, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences informs health care professionals about the possibilities for improving care through the use of home modifications and technology.

Target group

The Digital Consulting Tool is primarily designed for people with dementia and their family carers. It may also be of use for other target groups, such as
• Professionals in health care
• Professionals in the domain of public housing
• Construction engineers, installation technicians etc.
• SMEs
• Students, education and researchers.

Method

After research into dementia syndrome, the limitations it entails, and the opportunities that home modifications may provide, the design of the website was made considering the requirements for people with dementia and their family carers. The initial ideas were tested in three focus group sessions where a number of older people with dementia and their caregivers were asked about their opinions on the contents, design, navigation structure and search options of the preliminary website. Based on their responses, a list of demands was drawn up and the website was designed. Subsequently, this website was widely tested among future users and experts using a structured questionnaire. On the basis of the results the website was updated.

Results

The Digital Consultancy Tool for people with dementia is a combination of knowledge and expertise in the fields of dementia, ageing-in-place and the modifications that are required.
Based on scientific insights, practical advice is given for problems that occur with dementia, such as loss of memory or concentration, and disorientation, but also for physical symptoms associated with ageing, such as vision loss or difficulty with movement. On the website www.thuiswonenmetdementie.nl (in Dutch) people with dementia and their family carers can find practical advice on dementia-friendly home modifications.

The website offers practical information and advice for home modifications. The Digital Consultancy Tool is expected to be of interest for SME entrepreneurs.. Moreover, it is expected that the experiences gained with the digital consultancy tool for Alzheimer will be scalable for similar consultancy tools for other chronic diseases such as COPD or heart disease. It is expected that 3000 people will use the digital consultancy tool on an annual basis.

Products

Kick-off meeting: Mini Symposium on June 24, 2010 in Utrecht. Presentation of design, first results and follow-up.

Abstract: Kort, H.S.M., van Hoof, J., Bronsveld, A., Blom, M.M. Digital consultancy tool for ageing-in-place with dementia. Gerontechnology 2010;9(2):298; doi:10.4017/gt.2010.09.02.208.00.

Poster: Presentation at the 7th World Conference of the International Society for Gerontechnology in Vancouver, Canada), see www.gerontechnolgy.info / events.

Meeting of professionals of the study Leefstijl, Arbeid en Gezondheid (Lifestyle, Labor and Health) on June 15, 2010 in Amersfoort the project and the first results presented.

Newsletter: Focus on the project in the newsletter of the Demand-driven Care Research Group in June 2010.

Joost van Hoof. Ageing-in-place. The integrated design of housing facilities for people with dementia. Eindhoven University of Technology. 2010

Website: www.thuiswonenmetdementie.nl

Project Partners

Utrecht University of Applied Sciences , Research Centre for Innovations in Health Care, Research group Demand Driven Care, and Knowledge Centre Vilans. The partners in the implementation are supported by Alzheimer Nederland.

This project is part of the ‘Zorg(en) voor Morgen’ project, which was funded through the Pieken in de Delta-program by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the cities of Utrecht and Lelystad and the provinces of Utrecht, Noord-Holland and Flevoland.
Utrecht Regional Task Force Innovation (TFI) is a developer and secretary of this project. See also: www.taskforceinnovatie.nl/tfi-inspireert/zorg-en--voor-morgen.

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