Accessing Technology as a Tool for Engagement

Alive’s amazing CEO, Isobel Jones, was invited to chat all things tech with the wonderful Hilary Woodhead, NAPA’s Executive Director.

We have always seen the benefits of using technology in care homes and now, more than ever, these are invaluable tools to keep older people connected to their families.

It’s important to mention how hard care staff have been working to adapt during these times. Here at Alive, we have also been constantly trialling and updating new practices to be able to continue to offer sessions and training, for both residents and staff of care homes alike. For us, this has meant trying out sessions on online platforms.

But it hasn’t come without challenges… we have had to overcome lots of problems for these meetings to continue. A lot of homes have struggled to get online. There have been difficulties with accessing wifi in older buildings with thick walls, staff not having the knowledge or experience with technology, sessions being harder to access for anyone cognitively impaired, the cost of devices and adaptors and cables and connections, the list goes on…but we have found that we can overcome most of these problems with a little bit of training. We have been offering tech training which you can contact us directly about or check out the detailed notes available from our resource library.

Alive believe that technology can be an invaluable tool for improving the quality of life for older people in care.  Of course it depends how it is used, but it helps us to get to know those we care for and personalise their engagement and activity. The care industry must move with the amazing resources at our finger tips. 

It doesn’t need to be complicated tech; It can be as simple as headphones and an mp3 player. The incredible video, that recently went viral, of the former prima ballerina, Marta C Gonzalez who was living with Alzeimer’s before she died last year, hightlights how music can stir memory and emotion. This example of the dancer, while unable to access movement in the bottom part of her body, remembering strong and delicate movement with her arms and showing emotion on her face, is a truly moving and remarkable site to withold.

Tech will never replace person centred interaction and during these times we have noticed how much we miss this physical engagement and seeing people face to face. However, iPads are a library of information, that we can tailor to individuals. We can access videos, talks, podcasts, pictures and communication platforms relevant to each personal taste and needs. We can really use this tool to respond to people’s stories, saving specific files in order to customise the experience. The main benefit to using this media is having it all at your finger tips and the speed to search on the spot.

There are loads of new technonlogies that can make life easier for people living with cognitive impairment, for example voice recognition components such as Alexa and Siri can be paired with other devices to play music, video or radio and can also be used to set reminders for people living with memory loss and confusion.

You don’t have to have the most expensive tech to benefit from these advances. Even access to a radio tuned into a favourite channel can offer nostalgia and engagement for an individual.

You can watch Isobel’s interesting chat here. If you wish to contact us about anything discussed please email or call 0117 377 4756.