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Dementia care to be improved by creative software research

Researchers at City's Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice are helping care home workers to problem solve and collaborate in an EU-sponsored project.
by Luke Nava

The quality of care for people with dementia could be improved by new software being developed at City University London, which is designed to foster creative problem solving and collaboration amongst care workers.

A team at City's Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice is working with the Registered Nursing Home Association as part of MIRROR - a €6.45m research and development project sponsored by the European Union (EU) Seventh Framework Programme.

It aims to empower employees to reflect on their performance, share their experiences, solve problems more creatively, and work together to develop best practice.

"Caring for people with dementia is incredibly difficult, because each case is unique and can change quickly. We hope to make it easier for carers to deal with the problems they encounter, by helping them learn from previous situations, and apply their own and their colleagues' knowledge in new ways."

Professor Neil Maiden, Head of the Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice, City University London

Over the course of the four year project, Maiden's team will work closely with two care homes, to evaluate their needs and design a set of smart applications and accompanying hardware that can be readily incorporated into their working environment. For example, a carer could use a digital pen to capture a resident's details quickly, easily and remotely, before sharing the data with a colleague who could devise a treatment based on a prior, similar experience.

"Many organisations encourage their workforce to be more creative, but forget to put resources in place to cultivate innovation," continues Maiden. "Our aim is to develop practical tools that carers can use in their day-to-day work, to develop fresh ideas, put them into practice and record if they were successful."

City University London is one of 15 academic and commercial organisations working on the MIRROR project across Europe. Alongside UK care homes, four other test bed environments will try out MIRROR applications: emergency services in Italy; stroke care, and business intelligence, in Germany; and project management in the Netherlands.

The University set up the interdisciplinary Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice in 2009 to focus on teaching, research and consultancy activities around innovation. It is offering a unique Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (MICL) course, designed to give professionals from any background the skills needed to create innovative organisations.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.