Supporting Reflection and Creative Thinking

My colleagues and I have just submitted a paper named “Supporting Reflection and Creative Thinking by Carers of Older People with Dementia” for a conference on Pervasive Care for People with Dementia and their Carers. It details some work we have been doing recently to trial the use of iPod Touch devices with commercially available and free apps to test a concept for increasing richness of the information captured by carers who work with people with dementia.

Caring for people with dementia has quite a few challenges. No two days are the same. No two sufferers are the same, as dementia does not have a “standard progression”. Add to that the medical issues that come with old age and you have fairly complex needs.

A key challenge is to ensure that the care plan for each resident in the care home has a tailored personal care plan, and to keep it up-to-date as the resident’s condition progresses. So the carers need to record changes and issues they notice. Good idea, but not so easy in practice. Especially when PCs running the required software are limited, space is limited, and time available for writing up the notes are limited. Often what gets recorded is brief and task oriented. It does not provide any reflection about why the issue or change has arisen, nor suggestions for what could be tried to solve it.

So what we’re doing this week with one care home we’re working with is to test if they could use a simple messaging tool that integrates with a dictation software to record more information throughout the day, which can then be reviewed and collated more simply at the end of the day. We also introduced an app we’ve developed that allows carers to search for similar cases when dealing with challenging behaviour (see post image) – more about that in a later post.

The carers can choose whether they prefer to dictate the notes, e.g. if they have a quiet moment, which will then be automatically turned into text. Alternatively if they are in a noisy environment, or where they might be overheard by residents, they can use the keyboard to enter notes.

So far the responses we’ve had are positive. The carers like the devices, and have found the apps simple to use. It will be interesting as more feedback comes in to see how the iPods survived the environment and if the notes that have been recorded are richer than what they were before the devices were introduced.

Whatever the outcome, I’m full of admiration for the can-do attitude of the carers. Some of them had never used a smart phone or used anything like the iPod Touch before. And all of them warned me before we started that they were ‘not very good’ with computers. But they took to it like ducks to water. Having a go was not a problem. Even if some were a bit hesitant to begin with. I just love their attitude. I’ve never had such willing participants 😀

Author: Kristine Pitts


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Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice

The Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice is an interdisciplinary research centre in the Cass Business School, City University London.