'Game-changing' Isle of Man dementia app downloaded in 100 countries

  • Video report by Granada Reports Isle of Man correspondent Joshua Stokes

A new 'game-changing' app is being trialled at the Isle of Man Hospice to help dementia patients reminisce with friends and family.

Memory Lane Games contains a number of activities that aim to trigger positive memories for patients with dementia.

The app, which was conceived over a drink at a pub, includes quizzes with a variety of topics dating back many years.

It has already been hailed hugely successful, even encouraging one non-verbal patient to speak.

Bruce Elliott, a co-founder of Memory Lane Games, said: "We had some of our team in a memory cafe in the UK and they started playing our app, passing it around, and one fellow started playing, and all of a sudden he stopped and said 'do you know, Elvis is not nearly as good as Roy Orbison'.

"Then he starts singing a Roy Orbison song, and afterwards the carer of this person with dementia comes up to our team and says 'that was amazing, this person is normally non-verbal'."

The app holds more than 1,500 different quiz games ranging from famous locations to missing song lyrics. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Since its launch in 2020, the app has been downloaded more than 50,000 times and is being used in 100 countries around the world.

It is hoped the games will spark memories from years gone by, giving comfort to those with the condition.

Those trialling the app are also encouraged to import their own personal pictures to help trigger certain memories.

Peter Quayle, who also founded the app, said: "My mum's got dementia so what I was looking for was a simple to use app that I can use, and my mum can use, to allow me to reconnect with her - turning memories into games."

  • Bruce recalls a moment when trialling the app where a usually non-verbal patient reacted to the app.

It was originally created by friends Bruce and Peter after they were discussing their mothers during an evening at the local pub.

Bruce said: "We think it's simplicity and frustration-free games, so because we have gaming experience we looked at our mums and that's where we started building the games was for our mums and they loved them, and they loved the, because they were easy."

Peter added: "What we found was sadly short term memory tends to go but the longterm memory is there.

"You could be looking at a game from Liverpool in the 1940s, or London in the 1950s and you see pictures of advertising or shops and people say 'oh I remember that shop' and you have a five minute conversation about that corner shop in Nottingham and that's fantastic."

Bruce said the simple, fun, quiz-style game are designed to trigger positive memories, sparking conversations for people with dementia and their carers.

He added: "These quiz-style games have nothing to do with scoring or accuracy, it's all about the fun that comes from playing together."

The Isle of Man Hospice is recruiting on-Island volunteers to use the app once a week over a period of six months to utilise some of the new features.

Anne Mills, CEO of Isle of Man Hospice, said: "We feel immensely proud on the Isle of Man that we're doing something that's global, it's local research with global impact and it's groundbreaking."

Developers are aiming to add an option that allows carers to add in person photos and pictures to the games to assess whether it increases the patient's wellbeing.

The app is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.