Innovative dementia app wins international design award

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An innovative app which helps improve home environments for people living with dementia has won an international award for ‘best collaborative’ project.

The Iridis app, developed by the University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) and Space Group, is the first in a suite of technologies to assess and provide feedback on how suitable a residence, care facility or other environment is for older people, particularly those with dementia.

It won the ‘Best Collaborative’ category at the Blackwood Design Awards (BDA) – an international contest held to promote concepts and ideas that have the potential to change lives and help people with disabilities live life to the full. 

Lesley Palmer, Chief Architect at the DSDC, said: “We are delighted that Iridis has received this recognition.

“Research has proven that good design enables people with dementia, and other age-related impairments, to enjoy a greater quality of life and remain independent for longer.

“With around 50 million people estimated to be living with dementia worldwide, there is an immediate need to invest in the aging population and provide improved services and supportive design principles at home.

“Typically, people living with dementia have greater demands on healthcare services and providing guidance on how to adapt living conditions allows people to stay independent for longer and future proofs existing housing stock for years to come.”

Iridis enables the use of smartphones and tablets to assess environments – such as homes or hospitals – to ensure they comply with dementia design principles.

Users - including people with dementia, their family members and healthcare professionals - are asked to take photos of, and answer questions about, their surroundings. The app then uses the data to highlight potential problems, such as issues with furniture, lighting, colour contrast and noise, before recommending changes that could enhance the environment for people with dementia and reduce confusion and risk.

The app also creates a new channel of communication between researchers, designers and the end user, harnessing the opportunity to collect data and continually update the app to improve results for future users.

The app has been downloaded more than 1,100 times, in countries as far afield as Australia, Canada, the USA and Europe, since it was launched in September 2017.

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