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Using modern Technology in Triple Trees Care Home
By Mark Walder. Activities Coordinator:

Since becoming the Activities Coordinator for Triple Trees care home two years ago i have been constantly on the look out to find more and more ways to
engage and stimulate our residents. Conventional board games and even the use of some older pub type games and quizzes like shove halfpenny and
skittles have proven to be very successful, along with more well known activates such as Art Session, where a residents is able to express themselves in
their art, and some of them are quite happy to just do that, and they do, do it well .
We also encourage Guessing games, ball throwing, Reading, Gardening, trips out in the car for coffee, and even chair yoga and other exercises  along with
many other things, they are all things which do stimulate the mind and help to keep the body exercised. However i have also found that some of the more
modern ways in which we stimulate our own minds and bodies at home are of benefit to our residents and that is why i have introduced modern
technology like, digital cameras, computer tablets, VR 3d head sets and others to help encourage more in the way of inclusion, ways to stimulate interests
and find information, as well as reading and game playing. I have found that these things not only stimulate the mind but are great for helping with
physical activity as well as can help with diet, bowel problems and disrupted sleep patterns; they are also helping with memory as well as problem solving
and critical thinking.
So I will attempt to highlight some of the benefits of using this Technology in our care home and give some examples of the results it is having with our
residents.
Touch Screen Tablet computers and Mobile Phones:
By far the most popular items we are using at the moment, and i have decided to go with the Android system as there are plenty of apps available to
download for free under the heading of Dementia. Most of the apps  are simple word finding puzzles of various types, helping to stimulate memory and
simple problem solving, the introduction of the touch screen has proven to be a bit of a problem as for our residents the concept is very new and not
something most of them would have come across, so for that reason it does take quite a bit of time to sit with an individual to explain how that works,
however once they have grasped it they are find for the most part and go on to very much enjoy the games and puzzles they also help to improve hand-
eye coordination. The benefits i have found from a number of residents is that their sleep patterns have become more regular as the stimulation to the
brain is keeping them active and making them tired. For one resident who was experiencing a bit of pain from a long term conditions told me that the
simple movement of the hands and holding the tablet was actually helping with the pain, this could of course be because her mind was taken off of it or
that the physical activity was actually helping. One of the other benefits i have found is that it has helped with their eating and diet. The brain is the
hungriest organ in the Human body so using it is going to encourage a much better eating and drinking patter which in the long term will help with weight
loss as well as those whom may be prone to Urine infections. So all of this just from playing word puzzle games.
Because the tablets can go on line i have found them a great resource for stimulating conversation with those who may not be able to use the devices
themselves but can benefit from using Google image search to find places they may once have lived, and the images would be of how the area looked
then and now. This can provoke memories of past times which in turn will help to engage in conversation about those times. I have found that this can be
quite an emotional thing for some of them so i do have to proceed with some caution, having said that i have only had we have always managed to go
from very emotional to extreme delight and happiness just because they can see in front of them a place they once lived, i have even found that to move
on to the next image they will attempt to move the image with their finger once they have seen me do it. On top of this there are many stimulating apps,
digital games which appeal to the senses and can engage with people with limited cognitive capacity. Though i have found these apps do work better on
the VR3d head sets.
The Tablet is great for downloading music tracks, short programs from the past and movies, along with YouTube which is so full of such things as well as
informational programs and documentaries which is great to help when talking about hobbies and interests from their past.
The tablets have been a great help with art apps for colouring as well as from start drawing apps and of course for writing, though i have yet to engage with
any one particular resident who is able or willing to use these functions.
I will continue to use the Android tablets and phones as one of the main tools of modern technology  in the home simply because of the ability to move
them from person to person quickly and engage as many as possible in a session as possible as large group activities are not always possible or even
beneficial to people living with dementia because of the short attention span and short term memory problem, just by going to three different people can
mean the first person has forgotten what we were doing to begin with, so i tend to keep these session to a limited time for, now anyway.
VR 3D Head Sets:
VR (Virtual Reality) has the amazing ability to enable our residents to visit places and experience things they would never have imagined, even bring to
life some of the things they may have done when they were younger depending on the App being used to create the experience. In Triple trees what i
have done is help to create relaxing situation with stimulating images, movies and even actual virtual realities combined with relaxing nature sounds and
music to facilitate such experiences. The benefits can be instant for some and take time for others, for one resident she was so immersed in the
experience of swimming in a coral scene with fish of all sorts swimming with her, that she actually reached out to touch the fish, the music was relaxing
and to her the experience was all to real and relaxing. Other uses of the device have been to enable people to experience things they have never been
able to do before, for one resident this was to fly. I have collected many movies, full 3D 360 degree images from around the world and even some VR 3D
worlds where the user wears the head set and looks around to experience the scene, most of them are accompanied with music and sound effects. So far i
have not seen a bad experience from a single resident. I am in the process of looking it to it further to acquire better equipment to give a more personal
and more real experience for the residents.

Digital Camera Equipment:
There is nothing quite like photos to stimulate conversation and take a person back to a time long gone, and this we do regularly with our residents,
keeping this in mind i decided to take in a digital camera and help people create new memories of friends they have made in the home, when families
and old friends come to visit, and then display these images on a digital photo frame. The benefits are great in that they can create a sense of purpose for
the person taking the photos knowing they will be going on display for all to see, as well as a sense of wellbeing for those having their photo taken. It is in
its early stages at Triple Trees but it is already starting to become popular when i bring the camera out, it has the ability also to start conversation of photo
shoots long gone where residents talk about old times, holiday, family gatherings and much more, this is definitely one i will continue to use even though
it is limited usage for now.
Digital Storage for music and films:
As well as the digital cameras and storing images on a digital frame i have made it a point of asking residents when they come to Triple Trees what kind of
music they like. I do this because for some music is all they need to have a fulfilled day, singing, dancing and of course the conversation with others about
times gone by when the music was on the radio. This can spark war time conversations as well as family gatherings around the radio for sing along, as
many of them used to do. I use the digital storage “PEN DRIVE” to build song playlists based on the likes of the residents, we have a music player which
uses various different media from USB pen drives to SD Memory cards and CD’s of course there is always the DAB radio should we use up the playlist, but
that doesn’t happen often.
Using the USB pen drives i have also been able to find and download old TV shows for our residents to watch in place of the usual daytime TV. This has
enabled trips down memory lane and sparks conversations among the residents of family life back when these programs were on the TV live.
The options for digital equipment and media are endless and i am only in the early stages of introducing them, over the last year music has been the
biggest introduction as group activities which has encouraged dancing, and simple movement in chairs, the fact that there are some many options i am
sure that as i work toward introducing more things they can only benefit the residents in helping me to make their lives that much more full and
interesting.
As of mid April 2018 i have started to develop and app for computer and tablet which is based around simple taps on the screen to bring up pages which
contain personalised music, movies and sitcoms and pictures of places, family and friends as well as memorable events like weddings. The app is in early
stages of development but i have had success with my first two tests so will now be rolling it out for 6 of the most active residents to gain some feedback
and hopefully add more residents if it turns out to be of use. The app itself is built in HTML 5, and will be compiled using software on my own computer in
to full executable programs on other PC’s and Android devices, i am hopeful it will be successful because of the personal nature of the app and how it will
help with memory as well as enjoyment of favourite music and video/movie files for your residents.
Mark Walder
Activities Coordinator.