A ground-breaking new App in dementia care has been launched by dementia professionals in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.
The CLEAR Dementia Care© App will help transform how people understand behaviour in dementia. It was commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board as part of a wider Dementia eHealth and Data Analytics Pathfinder Programme.
The App has been designed for carers of people living with dementia at home and in care homes, but will also be of interest to anyone who is likely to meet a person with dementia.
Dr. Frances Duffy, Consultant Lead Clinical Psychologist for Older People in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust led the development of the new resource.
She explained: “Dementia is a life changing condition for the person and also for those who love and care for them. Carers can sometimes struggle to understand changes in the person with dementia. At times they don’t know what to say or do and, sometimes, without realising it, they can say or do things that can increase distress. Making small changes to how we interact with the person with dementia can really help them to feel safe and valued. CLEAR Dementia Care© has been developed to help us see the whole person with dementia.”
The App, which is available for free now on Apple and Android devices, is the first comprehensive App of its kind dealing with the professional care of a person with dementia.
The app is also freely available on the HSC Apps4Dementia library (https://apps4dementia.orcha.co.uk) as part of its ongoing activities to increase the uptake of technology in supporting people living with dementia.
Dementia is on the increase with an estimated 22,000 people living with the condition in Northern Ireland. There are several Apps on the market to assist people with mindful activities but this is believed to be the first to offer professional psychological support.
Soo Hun, DHCNI Innovation & Digital Eco-system lead said: “Prior to COVID there has been a 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.
“However, the use of digital tools has become even more significant as part of Health & Social Care NI’s COVID response; with the Digital Health & Care NI team being at the forefront and rolling out “Digital First” solutions as far as possible.
“Working collaboratively with Dr Duffy, the CLEAR App is part of a wider digital transformation programme in health and social care to make available clinically assured digital solutions that have been checked for data privacy and security into our clinical pathways.”
The content of the App has been developed by Dr Duffy, Jill Richardson, Associate Psychologist and Marc Harvey, Service Improvement Lead for Dementia in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust Dementia Home Support Team. The Northern Trust team worked with Sentireal who developed the App and Flickerpix who produced the illustrations.
Seamus McErlean, HSCB Social Care Commissioning Lead said; “A person living with a dementia can, because of their impaired cognition and their response to the world around them, exhibit behaviour which others find difficult to understand. This can be highly stressful for carers which in turn can lead to a sense of powerlessness and reduce their ability to continue in the caring role.
“This new CLEAR Dementia Care © App provides a support tool for informal carers and staff that will enable them to better understand patterns of behaviour and therefore be better able to respond appropriately to them.
“The team at NHSCT along with their partners in Dementia NI are to be congratulated for this important contribution to dementia care.”