Health tech project could help 850,000 living with dementia
Online tools could reduce the anxiety of people living with dementia, by helping them cope with the stress of travelling to hospital appointments.
An initiative run by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, based in North Wales, has shortlisted five companies to take forward innovative projects.
Run through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), A Cute Solution to Acute Anxiety In Dementia attracted more than 20 entries.
The aim is to help people living with dementia cope with the anxiety they feel when it comes to attending hospital or clinic appointments.
Following a Dragons’ Den style pitch, five mobile app and software specialists have been chosen to take forward research and development projects over the next four months.
Eventually, just two will be asked to turn their concepts into reality and create prototype demonstrators leading to a marketable product.
The companies are Damibu from Liverpool, Book of You from Ruthin in Denbighshire, Smyl Connect from Swansea, Oxford-based Zipabout and National Star College in Cheltenham.
BCUHB informatics project lead Anna Richards said: “The Health Board is working in collaboration with dynamic small companies to research and develop their concepts and, if successful with phase two, produce an innovative, marketable product which will aim to improve the challenges faced by people in our care living with dementia.”
“After we put out the call to businesses there was a great deal of interest in the project.
“These included a mobile app or something innovative, to help people. For example, reminding them of their appointment date and place, how to get to the location, what ward or department they are looking for and where to go - lots of little steps enabling them to safely and confidently reach their destination.”
An estimated 42,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with early onset dementia, out of 850,000 people with dementia.
The project has won praise from 55-year-old Chris Roberts from Rhuddlan.
He was diagnosed with early onset vascular dementia five years ago and has since become a major advocate for others with the condition.
As part of the BBC’s Dementia Season, Chris featured in a documentary chronicling the development of his Alzheimer’s.
Filmed over two years using CCTV fitted in his home, the documentary showed how he, his wife Jayne and youngest daughter Kate coped with the developing symptoms of his condition.
He said: “If we can get it right for dementia, it’ll help so many other people too – people with brain injuries or mental health difficulties for example.
“People with dementia do get very anxious when they go outside of their own personal space and can end up feeling lost. I’m actually afraid to leave my home alone.”
The project is supported by the UK Department for Transport and the Welsh Government.