There are many challenges associated with caring for a loved one with a health condition like dementia. It can feel overwhelming, and stressful, and isolating. That’s why The Cyril & Dorothy, Joel & Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training has developed many programs that offer practical skills and emotional support to for people in roles of providing care to loved ones. With Canada’s aging population, support is more important than ever.
Making The Reitman Centre’s resources available at the touch of one’s fingertips is one way to offer more far-reaching support, and this vision led to the development of a new app called Dementia Advisor, which recently won a prestigious Bronze award for Mobile Digital Health Resources in the fall 2017 competition of the Digital Health AwardsSM. Other winners include some of the world’s renowned health care innovators, including Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins School of Nursing and Kaiser Permanente.
Awarded for the simplicity of its design, clinically-based content, creativity and user experience, Dementia Advisor uses interactive chat-based role playing, guided by expert coaching to teach family care partners essential communication and problem solving skills. By simulating real-life situations, family care partners learn how to identify problems, develop strategies and practice skills so they can manage conflict and de-escalate challenging dementia-related behaviours.
This innovative app is based on The Reitman Centre’s signature program, CARERS, which has offered support to hundreds of care partners supporting loved ones with dementia. “We know that not all care partners are able to attend an in-person program like CARERS and that’s why we developed Dementia Advisor – to connect them with free resources through their mobile phones,” says Dr. Joel Sadavoy, Director of The Reitman Centre. “Receiving this award validates our efforts to improve the well-being of care partners through the use of technology.”
The clinical team at The Reitman Centre co-developed Dementia Advisor with Teresa Manley, head of Acquian Health, whose experience as a family care partner led her to initiate the development of this app at the 2015. “Dementia Advisor helps care partners learn what to say and do to reduce stress and better manage work-life demands while caring for a loved one with dementia,” shares Teresa.