InteractiveMe is an occupational therapy service which uses a secure web-based tool, accessed via a tablet supplied by the company that developed the system.
Each profile contains 'interaction triggers', such as personal photos, music, videos and stories, all about a person's life. This gives care staff meaningful prompts to engage with the person, increase mental stimulation and improve one-to-one relationships with staff.
It also allows organisations to connect with families by sending them photo-updates and allows families to send their own photos and videos direct to the person in care via InteractiveMe. One of the sub-tabs is 'This is your life', which contains people's favourite photographs and music. It can also include information about the foods, films, sports people liked, and their life histories. The application also has a reporting and auditing tool for one-to-one activities which helps the service to establish which activities people enjoyed the most.
When someone is admitted to a care home, a profile is set up with them or their family. The aim is to have a range of content about the person, their life story, and information which supports care teams to understand how to manage behavioural symptoms of a dementia diagnosis such as anxiety, confusion and disorientation.
Families can upload content – for example, pictures of family events or more photos from someone’s past.
The company provides training for all staff on how to use the tool.
How was it developed?
The tool was developed by Sam Dondi-Smith, an occupational therapist who had been working in mental health prior to setting up the company in 2015, specialising in dementia. He wanted to create a way of supporting people to live well and be engaged mentally and be able to improve the interaction between staff and relatives and people with dementia. It was developed with input from carers, staff and people with dementia. InteractiveMe has won the 2019 South East Health Technology Alliance Award and was a finalist in Medilink’s Healthcare Business Awards 2019.
Who is using it?
The Homestead, an Oxfordshire care home run by Methodist Homes, has been using the InteractiveMe service for over a year (July 2019). Registered manager Caroline Anderson says it is simple to use: “It’s great for staff as it gives them a real insight into what someone was like prior to them living with dementia.”
Caroline spoke of one resident who was quite unresponsive, but after ten minutes with staff using the application there was a marked positive improvement, with the resident smiling and laughing. There’s been positive feedback from families, who say that it helps them have conversations with their family member in the home.
It is also being used by care homes in Kent, Surrey, Essex, Hampshire and Cambridgeshire.
The company says that InteractiveMe uses a visual analogue scale to gauge the outcome for each session led by staff with the resident. It claims that users increase their engagement and their boredom is reduced, while families say they have a meaningful activity to engage in when they visit their relative.
On a CQC inspection of The Homestead, inspectors spoke with staff members who said they were using information about the life history of one person who was unable to communicate verbally. InteractiveMe enabled staff to use certain strategies to engage with a person and reduce their anxiety. Another member of staff said: "I used InteractiveMe as a distraction to help with a resident who was agitated. It really worked to settle them down and stopped it escalating.”
Case study - Angela
- Angela, who has no family, was admitted to a dementia-focused care home without any family. She often gets distressed and shouts out due to her dementia as she becomes disorientated.
- The team at InteractiveMe worked with the care team and her good friend Freya to collate a profile to be used by staff and Freya to settle Angela when she becomes distressed and anxious, which is particularly during the afternoons.
- Staff and managers reported that when interactiveMe was used, Angela could speak about her incredible past and she would settle very quickly. This impact was measured and documented by interactiveMe and passed on to the care home’s manager.
Angela has presented as calm and engaging with InteractiveMe, and staff have used the tool to settle her when she shouts out. The home could report back to Freya how the sessions were impacting on Angela’s mental health.