Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc, is one of the host institutions of DISTINCT: “Dementia: Intersectorial Strategy for Training and Innovation Network for Current Technology. At our department, we focus on two projects:

  1. FindMyApps project: Cost and effectiveness evaluation of FindMyApps, a tool to find usable apps for self-management and social participation in dementia.
  2. Photo-activity project: Evaluation of the effectiveness of a person-centred touch-screen based photo-activity on the social health and well-being of people with advanced dementia.

The interactive web based FindMyApps (selection tool + training), piloted and tested in a previous feasibility study, supports people with mild dementia (and family carers) in finding usable apps for the tablet for self-management and social participation. The objectives are:

  • to confirm the usability of the selected apps in the database of FindMyApps to support self-management and social participation;
  • to investigate the effectiveness of FindMyApps in a randomised controlled trial and
  • to investigate the cost-effectiveness of FindMyApps (MRC framework) and develop an implementation package and business model for implementation of FindMyApps.

It is expected that people with dementia who use FindMyApps regularly will participate more frequently in social and meaningful activities leading to better quality of life compared to those who use the tablet computer without FindMyApps, or people who do not use the tablet at all. FindMyApps is expected to enhance the family carer/person with dementia relationship, and for carers reduced feelings of burden, higher sense of competence and quality of life to help them care for longer. As FindMyApps is a web based and low cost intervention it is expected to be cost-effective and easy to implement. Based on experiences of users during the RCT (process analysis) improvements will help optimize its usability. An implementation package and business model will be developed.

The photo-activity project will be carried out in collaboration with Inholland University of applied sciences in Amsterdam in care homes and nursing homes in different regions of the Netherlands. Research has shown that viewing art on a touch screen tablet can positively influence the well-being of people with dementia and their caregivers. The visual artist Laurence Aëgerter developed an art-based photographic intervention, which can be used by formal and informal caregivers in the communication with people with advanced dementia. For every person with dementia a sample of photos related to their premorbid interests and photos that express positive emotions are collected and used in a communication activity. The usability and effect of the photo-activity intervention was successfully pilot tested in a previous study with positive impacts of mood and social interaction. In the present study a tablet version of the photo activity will be developed and a randomised controlled trial will be conducted into the feasibility and effectiveness of the intervention in people with advanced dementia living in nursing homes. Implementation issues will also be investigated by means of a process analysis.

DISTINCT is funded by the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (MSC-ITN) under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.

The main aim of DISTINCT is to develop a premier quality multi-disciplinary, multi-professional and intersectorial education and training research framework for Europe, aiming at improving the lives of people with dementia and their carers through technology.

The unique academic and non-academic collaborative partnership of DISTINCT comprises of 13 world leading research organisations across 8 European countries, 9 partners who include Alzheimer Europe, Alzheimer Disease International, the World Federation of Occupational Therapists and 3 SMEs for technology and dementia care. Many members of the DISTINCT team are the established researchers in the INTERDEM, an interdisciplinary European collaborative research network of 180 leading academics working to improve early detection and timely and quality psychosocial interventions in dementia.

Contact information:

Prof. Rose-Marie Dröes