This week’s blog is written by Faith Frost, reflecting on her experience of attending a recent webinar hosted by 3 Nations Dementia Working Group (3NDWG). Over to Faith:
I was pleased to be able to attend the webinar hosted by the 3NDWG on 29th June. The focus of this one was ‘Technology and Tips for People with Dementia’. You can find a recording of the webinar on their website.
The 3 Nations Dementia Working Group is a group of people diagnosed with dementia living across England, Northern Ireland and Wales, who work unitedly to make a difference for other people living with dementia.
The webinar kicked off with a fabulous talk by Pete Middleton, who was incredibly witty and engaging. Pete talked about his experience working as a senior IT consultant and his diagnosis of young onset dementia. He provided us with his top tips and hints for preparing for Zoom calls:
- Always plan (prior preparation prevents poor performance!)
- Choose a quiet and well-lit place to have your Zoom call in
- Make sure you have a good internet connection
- Pets are OK but some people may find it hard to concentrate when there is a lot of moving image on the screen
- Sit at a table! You can then have a notebook and pen handy for when you want to make notes
- Keep a drink handy – this can help to wet your whistle and give you an opportunity to breathe if you lose your train of thought
- Equip yourself with a good stand, a camera and a microphone for an optimum Zoom experience
- Make sure you don’t have any personal information in sight or things you may want to keep private
- Keep any props handy, for example an “I want to speak” card
- Stick a poster on your front door for the delivery driver instructing to leave your parcel in a safe space or with a neighbour
- Run through any computer programmes that you are using in advance and test your microphone
- Oh, and my favourite one… check your beard for any fish bones!
Pete also gave us some key do’s and don’ts for good ‘netiquette’
- Address any tech issues beforehand
- Familiarise with controls (you can’t break anything, so just have a play!)
- Mute yourself when on a call and not speaking so that people can’t hear your background noise
- Look directly at your camera and not at the picture of yourself
- Be patient and supportive to everyone on the call
- Put your hand up if you want to speak (using the hand up icon, raising your hand up on screen or by using a prompt card)
- Always end a meeting on a positive note
Some of the don’ts included:
- Don’t dress inappropriately (PJ bottoms and slippers permitted if out of sight)
- Don’t interrupt other people when they are speaking
- Don’t sit in the dark – people need to see you!
Well, after all that it had me thinking about my own ‘netiquette’ and I realised how many bad habits I had adopted, especially during the pandemic.
We then were introduced to Theo Chan, Adam Reid and Keith Oliver. They spoke to us about the research project they had been working on looking at the use of technology for people with dementia during the COVID pandemic. Theo and Adam spoke wonderfully about their involvement with the Forget-me-not group, working alongside other volunteers to provide assistance to members of the group living with dementia around all things tech!
As always, Keith spoke poetically and inspirationally to us about his experience of technology and dementia as a service user, and described it as “frustrating”. He expressed that what he used to find easy he now finds hard. It was moving and made me reflect on my Grandfather’s experience of technology when he was diagnosed with vascular dementia. He was a scientist and operated radars during World War 2. He also built his own TV so that he and his neighbours could watch the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 (he was VERY proud of that one!). During the later stages of his journey with dementia, he found using the phone, TV remote and operating the microwave really challenging. He too would often feel so frustrated.
Keith said, “an effective way to reduce frustration is having the support from others”. I couldn’t agree more.
The students involved in the project gave Keith and others support in some of the following ways:
- Sending out reminders of meetings a day before
- Documenting and circulating any meeting notes
- “Are you ok?” emails / messages sent prior to any communication online
- Support with preparation of documents
There was a general feeling that intergenerational work and the use of technology can be really helpful and some of the tech-savvy skills the younger population have can really rub off on others.
The third talk was from Jade Benjamin, an Occupational Therapy Assistant Practitioner working in a memory assessment service in Wales. She discussed with us some of the benefits of using technology in memory services and based her talk around a particular lady she had been working with.
The lady she referred to had been newly diagnosed with early staged mixed dementia, and was finding various things at home frustrating and isolating. The memory service was able to work with her and embed smart technology into her home to address some of the issues she was facing. One type of smart technology they used was called an “Echo Show”. This nifty little device not only acted as a clock, thermometer and calendar, but was gradually introduced to her as a device to make video calls, set reminders, send messages and connect with her family more. Jade explained how integrating technology into this lady’s home had shown great benefits for her emotionally and practically around the home.
Wow! I was so inspired after all of that and I hope you are too. An hour VERY well spent! A huge thank you to the 3NDWG for hosting this webinar and I’m looking forward to the next one. Hope to see you there (but remember to mute your microphone!)
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