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people with dementia and it is about time
we started to come to terms with how it
can be made to happen. I do not think that
cognitive decline is a barrier. It just means
there are special design considerations."
BUILDING A PROTOTYPE
The prototype 3D environment in
development includes a sitting room,
a bedroom and a garden. Salomon
describes AVED as interactive and
technologically sophisticated with
a machine-learning element. It
understands how the user is playing and
offers suggestions throughout.
The content draws on a person's work
life, social roles, family roles, the things
they wish they could do but never did,
and the things and people they miss.
"For the activity to be meaningful
to them it has to tap into their own
experiences," Salomon says.
She says the goal is to engage the
person with dementia in a fun and
entertaining way, though there is not a
curative element to the program.
It is linked to psychological theory
about engagement and selfhood within the
framework of person-centred care, and
Montessori methods inform the way tasks
are broken down, she says.
The content is filled with data Salomon
and her team collected during community
focus groups, interviews, and residential
aged care visits, and an online survey
targeted at carers of people with dementia.
While the prototype is generic,
ultimately people will be able to upload
their own content, such as photographs
and music, and have interactive scenarios
that appeal to them, she says.
In a highly-customised future version,
Salomon says if a person's story is about
migrating to Australia, for example, the
environment could have stimuli around
"It might be meaningful for that person
to pack a suitcase. You can imagine in
a virtual environment they can do that
quite simply by dropping and dragging
particular items into a suitcase. But it is
not just a game where you drop and drag.
"This is about your journey coming
to Australia. All the interactions in this
are related to an experience that is
important and meaningful to you."
TESTING WITH RESIDENTS
The AVED team has also been testing
the tool with residents with moderate to
severe dementia at Melbroune's Emmy
Monash Aged Care, where CEO Tanya
Abramzon sees great value in the project.
"The aged care industry is continually
striving to find a means of providing those
living with dementia added stimulation
and opportunities to connect with their
environment. Emmy Monash is thrilled
to be at the forefront of this process, and
to witness our residents embracing and
actively contributing to this innovative
program," Abramzon says.
The work at Emmy Monash has
involved getting residents' impressions of
images and gradually creating a narrative
based on their responses, then testing
their responses to the iPad, Salomon says.
While using an iPad has been new for a
lot of the residents it hasn't hindered them.
"There are no preconceptions, self-
imposed limitations or frustrations about
how come they can't do something
anymore. It simply is. It has been
fascinating to see. There has not been any
resistance to it as a piece of technology,"
The prototype is due to be ready in June
when they will test it with the dementia
community. Salomon will finish her PhD
later this year. She is hoping the CRC will
help her to take AVED to the next level
of development and that the project can
attract industry support and funding.
Alzheimer's Australia Vic is already an
industry partner. By no coincidence AVED
is being built by Opaque Multimedia - the
same ex-Swinburne students who built
Alzheimer's Australia Vic's 3D interactive
wall at their new Dementia Learning
Centre in Parkville (see AAA Technology
Review Issue 5 for a report).
"Alzheimer's Australia's interactive wall
is about educating people about dementia
and we are about creating software for
people with dementia. We have got all
bases covered I hope," says Salomon. n
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