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Digital tech has health benefits for dementia patients, project finds

A project under the NHS’s Widening Digital Participation Programme has found that digital technology such as iPads and Alexa devices can have benefits to the health and wellbeing of people with dementia and their carers.

The Leeds Dementia Pathfinder projects introduced the digital technology devices to support groups and ‘memory cafes’, and also loaned them to carers to use at home.

Carer reported practical benefits of using the tech, which including allowing them to manage medication or access health information. In addition, the devices also improved their wellbeing by providing them with online support, as well as allowed them to relax, socialise and have fun.

The Widening Digital Participation Programme, delivered by NHS Digital, is focused on improving access to digital health services, especially for the most vulnerable groups in society.

The Leeds Dementia Pathfinder, which was run by Digital Leeds alongside community partners, also provided training and resources as well as loaning out the technology.

These devices were loaned to a range of setting, including care homes and hospital wards, to support a number of groups, such as Carers Leeds and Neighbourhood Network Schemes.

“It is fantastic to hear that this pathfinder made such a huge difference to the lives of people with dementia and their carers, not only during the project but during the period afterwards when support was provided remotely using digital technology,” said Ian Phoenix, director of Citizen Health Technology at NHS Digital.

“The main aim of the Widening Digital Participation programme was to develop innovative ways to improve health and wellbeing which could then be rolled out more widely – and this is a great example of that,” he added.