Isolation, loneliness and boredom are key concerns for caregivers of people living with dementia. But with the introduction of an interactive technology – Tovertafel – Bupa has seen an increase in social integration of many residents living with dementia.
Tovertafel, a psychosocial intervention tool that helps reduce restlessness, works by projecting interactive lights onto a flat surface in the form of games and activities. It stimulates cognitive, physical, social, and sensory experiences that residents find stimulating, relaxing, and fun and promotes social engagement.
Following a pilot in six care homes, the use of the technology by Bupa’s residents was so encouraging that the aged care company has now introduced the Tovertafel system to 27 of its care homes that have dementia-level care.
Sandy Turnwald Bupa’s Clinical Director, says, “Relationships, conversation, interaction, belonging. These are the human moments that are so important and especially so for our residents living with dementia. Tovertafel has been beneficial in making that happen.
“We want all our residents with dementia and cognitive impairments to reap the benefits of this technology and we’ve invested significantly to provide one to each of our care homes with dementia level care,” she says.
Tovertafel was initially developed as a gaming system for people with cognitive challenges. Now it has games specifically designed for people living with dementia that has been observed to help reduce restless and tense behaviour and, in some cases, has meant a reduction in the use of antipsychotic medication.
Bupa Dementia Care Advisor Beth McDougall is a passionate advocate for people living with dementia.
“Typically, people living with dementia can recede from their environment, but Tovertafel has brought about increased cognitive, physical, and social connectivity in our residents. It’s especially helped improve relationships between residents and you can see the difference immediately.Bupa Dementia Care Advisor - Beth McDougall
“Typically, people living with dementia can recede from their environment, but Tovertafel has brought about apparent increased cognitive, physical, and social connectivity in our residents. It’s especially helped improve relationships between residents and you can see the difference immediately.
Games that include music or song have proven particularly engaging.
McDougall continues, “The residents enjoy playing the projected keyboard and often sing along to tunes. In some instances, even typically non-verbal residents participate. We hear laughter and see joy. It’s incredible.”
McDougall says interactive games can be played individually or in a larger group with the objective being to slow the effects of dementia by building up cognitive reserves.
Michelle Mills, a Senior Caregiver at Bupa Redwood Home in Rotorua says, “Many of our residents present with sundowning as early as lunchtime. This is when a resident may experience confusion, frustration, anger or anxiety among other symptoms and feelings.
“By using Tovertafel we have been able to engage our residents for longer periods using lower stimulus games. It minimises stress for all residents and appears to help keep the effects of dementia at bay,” says Michelle.
Tovertafel has also appeared to be effective in increasing social bonding between residents, care teams, and visiting whānau through interactive activities.
Mills continues, “The games initiate rich discussions that evoke happy memories. Games of polishing the cutlery before laying the table lead to conversations about family dinners and our resident’s role in their home. These memories are vital in forming relationships and bonds.
“There have been so many positive outcomes for the residents and team since using Tovertafel. Now our night teams use it with residents who have problems sleeping,” says Mills.