Using the iPad in group activities: Well-being in people with dementia

This idea--to research the impact of using the iPad in group activities with people with dementia--is submitted by:

  • Dr Chris Barr, lecturer and researcher in rehabilitation aged and extended care, Flinders University of South Australia
  • Fong Yoke Leng, Co-ordinator of MINDVital and MINDActive programs for persons with cognitive impairment / dementia in the Cognitive and Memory Disorders Service, Department of Geriatric Medicine, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore

Fong worked in a Dementia day care centre in Singapore, and wanted to research if the iPad was as good as, or better than, traditional activities in promoting well-being and at eliciting similar behavioural responses.

We used a person-centred care approach to assess responses to traditional therapy activities and iPad activities. We chose cooking and craftwork as the activities, as these were the types of activities the people who participated in the study liked doing.

With the iPad apps, we started with a warming-up exercise using a familiar Chinese song from the iPad. The other apps are 'Egging', 'Talking Baby', 'Jigsaw Puzzle ABC' and 'Reminiscence Singapore'. These were selected from a list of apps that may have been of interest to the participants.

The iPad activities resulted in a higher level of Mood and Engagement score than both the traditional activities. They also elicited a wider variety of behavioural responses. The cooking activity elicited two responses (articulation and work-like activities), and the craftwork activity elicited two responses (articulation and expressive activities), whereas the iPad resulted in six behavioural responses (articulation, being engaged, reminiscing, prioritising the use of intellectual abilities, exercise, and leisure activities).

This project was devised and implemented by Fong Yoke Leng, and the full paper was published in Dementia (Leng, F. Y., Yeo, D., George, S., & Barr, C. (2013). Comparison of iPad applications with traditional activities using person-centred care approach: Impact on well-being for persons with dementiaDementia. DOI: 10.1177/1471301213494514). 

This idea would be suitable for anyone who conducts group activities with people with dementia. In our study we used apps that the participants liked to take part in. However, given the large number of apps available, the choice of the apps to be used could be customised to any group. All our participants were female who liked cooking and craftwork. There are countless apps available on many topics including but not limited to sporting activities, art, and history. For example, in the centre where the study was based, an app containing old photographs of Singapore is very popular as a group activity for Reminiscence, to use long-term memories.

Published on 20 August 2013
Email:Email the author

Archived content: The I Can! I Will! content has been archived and is no longer being updated. Information on this page may no longer be accurate or relevant.