More than just “memory loss”

Across repeated national lockdowns, findings suggest that GPs made 50% fewer dementia assessments and 33% fewer referrals to memory clinics in the six months to April 2021, compared with the six months to March 2019.

However, as both the health and social care sectors respond to this backlog, the wellbeing of people with dementia is crucial. Put simply: a backlog in missed dementia cases must not be allowed to cause a new epidemic of loneliness and over-medication for people living with the condition.

At Alexandra Grange, a Berkshire-based Hallmark home where residents have been introduced to the Happiness Programme – a structured implementation framework that combines interactive technology with a supportive programme of training for staff – such measures have made a major difference.

For one resident who had stopped communicating verbally as their dementia had progressed, taking part in the games helped them to regain some of their vocabulary and communicate with fellow residents and support staff. When family visited, interactive play offered the chance to engage with their young grandchildren – bursting bubbles together that were projected onto the individual’s bed.

Often, dementia is thought of in terms of lost memories, but these memories can in fact still form the basis of stimulating games. After all, the joy we get from fun, engaging activities is universal – providing an important opportunity for intergenerational play and to create cherished moments of happiness for all of the family. For example, a photograph can be projected through interactive light technology for individuals and their families to colour in together.