Best Practice Guidance
Human Interaction with Technology in Dementia

themes: Complex intervention

Practical, cognitive & social factors to improve usability of technology for people with dementia

Technologies are increasingly vital in today’s activities in homes and communities. Nevertheless, little attention has been given to the consequences of the increasing complexity and reliance on them, for example, at home, in shops, traffic situations, meaningful activities and health care services. The users’ ability to manage products and services has been largely neglected or taken for granted. People with dementia often do not use the available technology because it does not match their needs and capacities. This section provides recommendations to improve the usability of technology used in daily life, for meaningful activities, in healthcare and in the context of promoting the Social Health of people with dementia.
Health care technologies

Consult with end users when deciding on a mode of delivery for a digital intervention


Researchers and developers of digital psychosocial interventions for people with dementia and family carers should consult end users on the mode of delivery of their interventions to ensure its usability.

Explanation and Examples

Consensus exists that consultations with people with dementia and family carers should be carried out when developing digital complex interventions for these populations. However, with different platforms that are available to researchers and developers, it is especially important to ensure that the mode of delivery of these technologies (e.g., smartphone application, website, text messages etc.) is appropriate and useful for people who are going to use the intervention. Qualitative consultations in the form of interviews and focus groups with end users can be especially useful for this. We conducted focus groups with 17 people with dementia and family carers to establish their needs and wishes regarding the digital adaptation of an existing face-to-face intervention. Contrary to our expectations, we discovered that participants preferred a website intervention if they were going to use the intervention for a limited amount of time, for example less than four weeks. Smartphone applications were preferred if they were going to be used for a longer period. Consultations with end users are recommended to establish not just the intervention content but also its mode of delivery.

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Evaluating the effectiveness of specific contemporary technology

The rapid growth of the technological landscape and related new services have the potential to improve the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of health and social services and facilitate social participation and engagement in activities. But which technology is effective and how is this evaluated best? This section provides recommendations to evaluate the effectiveness of technology in daily life, meaningful activities and healthcare services as well as of technologies aimed to promote the Social Health of people with dementia. Examples of useful technologies in some of these areas are provided.

The need for more high-quality research into development, implementation and evaluation of complex health technologies


Better research using high-quality study designs is needed to develop, implement and evaluate complex palliative care interventions (targeting whole-system change) for people with dementia living and dying at home.


Our systematic review found that the existing evidence base remains insufficient and is generally too weak to robustly assess the effects of palliative care interventions for people with dementia living at home.

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Implementation of technology in dementia care: facilitators & barriers

Successful implementation of technology in dementia care depends not merely on its effectiveness but also on other facilitating or impeding factors related to e.g. the personal living environment (privacy, autonomy and obtrusiveness); the outside world (stigma and human contact); design (personalisability, affordability and safety), and ethics on these subjects.  This section provides recommendations on the implementation of technology in everyday life, for meaningful activities, healthcare technology and technology promoting Social Health.

Target multiple levels when implementing complex health technology in a specific context


When implementing Advance care planning (ACP) as a complex health technology in a complex setting such as a nursing home, multiple levels should be targeted, including management, nurses, care staff, volunteers, visiting or residing physicians, families, cleaning or other staff.


The implementation process will have a higher chance of succeeding when multiple levels are targeted within the nursing home. Colleagues in the nursing home can help each other to implement the intervention, creating a positive and open environment to learn and develop new skills and deliver the best care possible. In this way the intervention can produce a shift in working culture and attitudes and deliver sustainable change.


The ACP+ intervention targeted not only the (head) nurses, but also other care staff and cleaning, kitchen and maintenance staff. Also, engagement of the management was required for participation in the trial. A few highly motivated people were extensively trained in conducting ACP conversations and this knowledge was past onwards to colleagues via internal training sessions. In this way the whole nursing home was involved in the intervention, leading to greater participation of all nursing home employees.

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