Why engaging people with dementia matters

Engage people with dementia

As a growing number of technologies emerge to help people with dementia maintain their independence and quality of life, there’s an increasing opportunity to give people with dementia a voice in the development of technologies intended for their use. Our team is fully committed to including and engaging people with dementia and their care partners in many aspects of our business, including product design, testing, and commercialization. 

Engaging people with dementia matters to us. It matters a lot. That’s why we’ve partnered with Applied Health Sciences (AHS) and the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP) at the University of Waterloo and the Ontario Dementia Advisory Group (ODAG) on a research project exploring best practices for engaging people with dementia in design, testing, and commercialization of technology intended for their use. 

This research project—funded by AGE-WELL—is inspired by the “authentic partnership” approach introduced by MAREP, an approach that values diverse perspectives and seeks to include people with dementia directly in decision-making. For this project, we want to understand how we can engage people with dementia meaningfully and respectfully in design, testing, and commercialization of technology. We want to know what works well … and what doesn’t work as well.

How we engage people with dementia

We’re exploring different ways to engage people with dementia, and we’re learning as we go. At the moment, we’re inviting people to participate in the following activities:   

  • Usability testing: We give people a series of tasks to complete using our MemorySparx app; we observe them and ask questions about their experience.
  • Product testing: We ask people to use our technology for 2 to 3 weeks, and we follow up with them regularly to collect feedback. 
  • Advising: We ask people with dementia for input on all kinds of things, including product design ideas, testing methodologies, and commercialization plans.

At all times, we aim to be clear, warm, and empathetic in our interactions with people with dementia and their care partners. 

As we learn, we want others to learn too

As we engage with and learn from people with dementia, researchers from the University of Waterloo are observing what we’re doing and collecting feedback from people with dementia on how we’re doing. The data they collect will inform best practices for businesses looking to engage people with dementia in design, testing, and commercialization of technology intended for their use. The data will also inform practical resources for people with dementia looking to become involved in technology projects.   We believe engaging people with dementia results in better, more useful and accessible products.

People with dementia have a voice; we want that voice to be heard.

So, what's next? The research project will run through spring 2017. We look forward to sharing our findings and experiences after the project ends. Stay tuned! Our hope is that the findings will lead to increased inclusion of people with dementia in projects that affect them. To learn more about the work we do, visit www.emmetros.com. 2017 is shaping up to be a busy year for us, and we'll be sharing updates, product info, events, and more here as well as on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

ResearchJennifer Krul