New technology brings back old memories | Latest news

New technology brings back old memories

The Dementia Support team at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust have recently introduced new digital reminiscence therapy computers onto the elderly care wards at Pinderfields and Dewsbury Hospitals.

The digital reminiscence therapy is a form of cognitive therapy which calms, stimulates and reduces agitation in patients with dementia. The therapy has been proven to help and positively engage dementia patients, with a cognitive decline in mental abilities such as memory and thinking.

The digital therapy computers, also known as my-life computers, offer a wide range of interactive touch screen activities for the patients to engage with such as a wide range of music from every generation, old and new films to watch, a wide range of interactive games and an app for families to create a personalised life album by uploading photos with their loved one.

Some of the touch screen games include horse racing, pig racing, selfie photograph jigsaws, whack a mole, create your own aquarium, coconut shy and even painting.

The technology has proven to be a useful pathway for staff getting to know the individuals and learning more about the patients and their interests.

Pamela Austwick, whose father was admitted to ward 42 last month, enjoyed using the new reminiscence therapy on one of the new wheelbase computers on ward 42 at Pinderfields and said “What a wonderful idea the reminiscence computer is. My dad loves his brass band music and classical music which was very soothing, and brought back memories which we could talk about. The older generation need these tools to keep their minds working.”

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have found that gathering information about a patient’s background (90%) and the provision of activities (72%) rate very highly towards improving the experience for people with dementia. The RCN’s ‘Commitment to the care of people with dementia in hospital settings’ guide 2013, recommends that patient’s with Dementia should have their abilities and coping strengths ‘maximised’, and rehabilitative approaches should ‘incorporate memory skills support, the use of memory aids and maintaining skills for everyday living.’

Claire Coleflax, Dementia support worker, across all sites here at the Trust, said “The new digital reminiscence therapy is proving very popular with our patients.  Since it was introduced three months ago we have noticed how patients are really engaging in the different activities. They are staying awake for longer periods in the day to use the computers and they are interacting so much more with their relatives when they visit using the activities, as well as with staff and other patients. We really believe this new technology has helped to reduce the number of falls on our elderly wards in partnership with our safety support workers, and this is allowing them to build better relationships with patients by interacting through using the games and activities.”

Wards 41 and 42 at Pinderfields Hospital currently have two wheelbase my-life computers and on ward 43 at Dewsbury Hospital there is an iPad with the therapy software uploaded onto it. The computers are mainly used by the ward safety support workers and new ward befrienders with dementia patients at present, but they can be used by all patients whether cognitively impaired or not, and a business case has been submitted for ten more my-life computers to be bought and more available within the elderly care wards.

The software has been created by the company ‘My Improvement Network’, who specialise in creating software to help support people with dementia.


Photo: L-R; Keisha Withers (One of the new Befriender’s at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust), Clare Coleflax (Dementia Support worker at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust) with Arthur Warren, patient at pinderfields Hospital, listening to classical music on one of the new digital reminiscence therapy computers.