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Technology improves care and support for Mardy Park day centre users with dementia and complex needs

Technology has much to offer people living with dementia and their carers. Staff at Mardy Park Day Centre in Abergavenny realised the potential and approached DCW for training and equipment.

Technology has really enriched daily activities at the centre and users have benefited enormously as a result. The staff team has also become more confident using IT.

Many of the people who use the day centre have complex needs which make it difficult for them to communicate verbally, and for staff to interact with them. After attending an event run by the local health board, Day Services Team Leader Maria Thomas was inspired by the way technology could be used to engage older people, and approached DCW for advice.

After meeting with Maria, DCW delivered training to six members of staff showing them ways to use technology to communicate with people. The training also highlighted websites, tools and resources which might appeal to older people. DCW then loaned the centre some tablet devices so the team could try out this new way of working.

The results of this work were quite remarkable. It brought the outside world into the lives of the centre users and helped them contact friends and families. They could create and express themselves in a range of different ways and it helped staff gain a better understanding of users’ experiences, likes and dislikes.

One man, a first language Welsh speaker, had had little opportunity to communicate in his native language. A carer was able to sit with him and look at Welsh language sites on the tablet. He took enormous pride in translating the articles he was reading for her. He said “This thing could open up a new world for me!”

Another man had lost most of his ability to speak. As a result, the team had struggled to engage him in activities and conversation. Using the tablets, staff showed him apps and websites appropriate to his interests, and that helped build better relationships and understanding. He has become more settled as a result.

A lady with advanced Dementia was often unsettled within the day centre environment. But staff found that using the tablet with her to look at images from her home town and helped to ease her anxiety. She said, “Ooh! That’s my village…Look!” when they used the tablet with her for the first time.

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“Purchasing tablet devices ourselves wasn’t easy, but the loan from DCW enabled us to try out new approaches. The intervention also benefitted staff, by increasing their technology skills and helping them become more confident using the tablets with the people they support.”

Maria Thomas, Day Services Team Leader