Task sequencing for people living with dementia

The task sequencing project explores ways to enable people with dementia to carry out tasks or activities at home by providing technology-based prompts.

Our previous research gave us a detailed understanding of what types of technology-based prompts work, and why.

The current project, supported by a further three-year research grant from the Dunhill Medical Trust, seeks to explore how best to support a carer to identify and break down meaningful tasks, and load this personalised information into a prompting device for a person with dementia to use.

The information to support the carer, and the design of the prompting device, will be developed during this project.

We will engage with people with dementia and carers at different points throughout the work to refine the details of the design.

What is the need?

People living with dementia will often find multi-step tasks difficult to complete as executive function can be progressively affected.

Who will The Task Sequencing Project benefit?

By supporting people living with dementia to carry out everyday tasks, we can maximise user independence, sense of achievement and confidence.

Additionally, carers can potentially benefit from reduced dependency as well as seeing their loved ones’ confidence increase.

Design Findings

Our earlier research found that combining text and recorded voice prompts could really help a person with memory problems complete a task. We are soon to obtain rich data from home visits and user engagement which will feed into the current project.

Home Trials

We recently conducted 12 home trials in conjunction with RICE, which will allow us to see for the first time how the prompting and the instructions work when people use it together in their own homes.

This will help us to refine the design further during this project, so that the final trials, which enable participants to try the prompting as if they had simply bought the ‘product’ and its instructions, will be as successful as possible.

Expected Outcomes

By the end of this project, we expect to have a prompting “product”, complete with supporting training material for carers, which has been specifically designed for the end users. This will enable further trials to be carried out to determine the efficacy of the product in trials with users.

Our Role

  • Conduct workshops with carers to understand the challenges of teaching them to identify and break down meaningful tasks.
  • Carry out an extensive search of existing research in the areas of sequencing and task prompting to draw on learnings, as well as related products (both hardware and software).
  • Collaborate with the Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) to gain support in designing and recruiting for different stages of this research.
  • Build and develop training materials and a practical prompting system (in the form of a simple tablet display) to support people living with dementia to carry out multi-step tasks.
  • Design and develop an effective user interface for the prompting device, suitable for users living with dementia.
  • Engage with people living with dementia, and those caring for people with dementia, throughout the development process to ensure we consistently meet the users’ needs.
  • Disseminate findings; share knowledge through publications, promotion and talks.

Further Information

Project Leads: Dr Hazel Boyd, Professor Nigel Harris, Nina Evans

For more information please contact Dr Hazel Boyd hazelboyd@designability.org.uk 01225 824103

Our multidisciplinary Research Team is being led by our Chief Executive, Professor Nigel Harris. It also includes Nina Evans; Lead Occupational Therapist, Dr Hazel Boyd; User-Interface Engineer, Jess Fox; Industrial Designer and Researcher, Professor Richard Cheston, Professor of Mental Health Sciences at the University of the West of England, and Dr Krist Noonan, Neuropsychology Research Fellow at the Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE).

Last updated 25.07.17

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