App launched by Ulster University for people living with dementia

Older person sitting on chair
UTV Credit: The InspireD App is designed to help people with dementia remember their life experiences.

A new reminiscence app has been developed by researchers from Ulster University’s Schools of Nursing, Computing and the Belfast School of Art in partnership with Dementia NI and local app developer Scaffold Digital. The InspireD App enables people living with dementia, their carers and families to create a digital memory book to store photographs, videos and sounds; aimed at sparking conversations and providing opportunities to share experiences and maintain relationships. Whilst dementia often causes problems with short term memory, many people find it easier to remember things about their past.

This app draws on this strength by supporting people to share their life experiences, memories and stories and in doing so to maintain and build connections with other people. The development of the InspireD app builds on previously published research carried out by Ulster University which investigated the impact of a personalised reminiscence programme, using an iPad app for 60 people living with dementia, their family and carers.

The study showed that reminiscence improved mood, wellbeing, quality of life and relationships for people living with dementia. Professor Assumpta Ryan, Professor of Ageing and Health at Ulster University and InspireD app project lead commented:

“This truly collaborative project brought together Ulster’s research expertise in Nursing, Computing and Design with the lived experience of Dementia NI members and local app developer Scaffold Digital to create an app which has the power to enhance the lives of those living with dementia. “Spending time with friends and family and sharing experiences and memories is something most of us enjoy and this does not change after a dementia diagnosis.

The project team worked with people who have dementia to ensure the app would be suitable for them. Credit: UTV

Davie McElhinney was diagnosed with dementia four years ago. He has been using app over the past few weeks. “I have been uploading lots of photographs on the app and it has been really useful for me," he said.

"I really enjoy looking at photographs; I find it very calming, and they help me remember places I have been and people I’ve met. “There is one particular photo from when my son and daughter were very young on a beach.

“The app is a real benefit to me and I hope it’s going to benefit lots of other people living with dementia," Davie added. The charity, Dementia NI has welcomed the development of the app which their members helped to trial.

Ashleigh Davis, Empowerment Officer, Dementia NI said: “Dementia NI is delighted to have played a vital role in the coproduction of the inspireD app which provides people with dementia and their carers the opportunity to connect, and confidently reminisce through visuals, sounds and video which are individual to them.

"Dementia NI members are proud to have helped create an online resource that presents a personal connection to an individual’s past, we believe the inspireD app will deliver significant person-centred benefits when assisting those living with dementia to recall past life history and positively engage with their family and carers.”