Dementia Australia has prepared resources to help people living with dementia use video conferencing platforms like Zoom to stay connected.
The resources were developed with input from people living with dementia after the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee recognised a need for them.
“For people living with dementia background noises are very distracting and there have been a few times that’s it’s been hard to concentrate on calls and this has made me understand how environmental issues are a big issue for people living with dementia,” says committee member Dennis Frost, who has a background in IT.
“As a means of communications, Zoom fills a lot of needs and sometimes you can’t meet in person. Having something like this may help someone reconsider connecting with others by using Zoom.”
The guides include practical instructions on how to use the technology, and tips on how to get the best out of the online experience, including preparing written signs to use during the meeting such as ‘I want to speak’ or ‘I agree’.
There are also tips on how to hold a dementia-friendly meeting, including taking a five-minute break every 30-45 minutes, ensuring everyone’s name is clearly displayed on screen, and making sure any meeting papers are emailed rather than in a link.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe says the guides will be valuable for the estimated 459,000 Australians living with dementia, many of whom live in the community and need to use technology to keep in touch with family, friends, carers and health care professionals every day and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She says COVID-19 has led to a heavy reliance on video calling and conferencing, which poses challenges for people living with dementia and can be a frustrating, overwhelming and negative experience.
“Instead of video conferencing being a way to connect with others, it can often be a barrier for people living with dementia and further embed feelings of social isolation,” Ms McCabe says.
“These guides aim to support people with dementia feel better equipped to access video conferencing in order to stay connected.”
The free resources are available online here.
This story first ran on Community Care Review.