A pioneering project using 21st-century technology is helping residents at older people’s housing charity Abbeyfield’s care home in Alnwick to develop their creativity.
iPad EngAGE uses iPads and artistic apps to interact with elderly people and has proved to be a useful tool in reaching those with dementia and alleviating the isolation the condition can cause.
Abbeyfield House in Alnwick is one of four in the north selected for interactive sessions as part of the project which provides residents with interaction and a new interest their families can share with them.
Project developer, artist Claire Ford, said: “The main aim of iPad EngAGE is for people to be engaged, whether that’s through drawing, painting, animation, dance, music.
“It’s just finding what that one thing is for the individual to spark them off.
“It really brings people out of their shell and encourages communication. You’ll find that if people are on the iPad, they’ve forgotten about having dementia or even communicating, so it allows it to flow more fluently.”
Many of the elderly people had never seen or used an iPad before the sessions with artist.
Louise Rea goes into Abbeyfield House as part of the Arts Council England-funded project alongside staff and volunteers. She spends time with residents on an individual basis.
Sandra White, a member of the Friends of Abbeyfield Committee, Alnwick, whose mother Rowena is a resident at the home, was astounded to see the effects of iPad EngAGE for herself.
She said: “I attended a session where the residents were using iPads in which my mother was participating.
“She was diagnosed in 2008 with Lewy Body Dementia and communicating has become more and more difficult. Watching the session, it was amazing to see two or three moments of clarity, which is something I haven’t seen for a long, long time.”
In addition to the one-to-one sessions focusing on individuals, the project also uses the iPad in group sessions on different themes, such as a story or a song, to bring it to life for the users.
Abbeyfield House activities co-ordinator, Stephanie Purvis, said: “Enhancing the quality of life for older people in their later years so they get the most out of life is at the heart of all Abbeyfield does.
“Whatever their level of dementia, this project has opened up ways in which people can communicate and express themselves.”