ADAM – About Digital and Me

Two things can discourage people with long term health conditions from using technology even if it might help them. First, fear of technology itself. Second, they can be overwhelmed by the vast array of digital tools and applications available, such that they lose interest in exploring what is available.

ADAM (About Digital and Me) is all about addressing these issues, in particular for those living with Dementia. It was created because the Digital Team at Alzheimer Scotland realised by talking to families that it’s hard to find out about technology from a source that you can trust, a source which isn’t trying to sell you something and to know that someone in similar circumstances to you found useful.

With this in mind, and with support and funding from the Scottish Government Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Programme, Alzheimer Scotland worked with a tech company to create ADAM. Though developed for people with dementia, ADAM can be used for people with other long term-health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, hearing loss and vision impairment.

ADAM has been very well received because it was based on the views and recommendations of people who have the lived experience of long-term health conditions. The recommended products have all been tried and tested by people with dementia and by the Digital team at Alzheimer Scotland within a set of specially designed protocols for such testing. Essentially ADAM is like a curated catalogue of useful tools which is easier to navigate than having to search through the internet.

Within mPower, the team at NHS Ayrshire and Arran identified ADAM as a useful tool for local beneficiaries and have introduced it to people who might need it. The first stage in the process is for a Community Navigator to spend time with the beneficiary, or their main family member/carer, going through a questionnaire to pin down what is important to them. Then it is about identifying a product that will be useful to that individual based on the information they have provided.

Examples of tools are a Digital Clock which helps to give purpose to someone’s day; a Doro phone with GPS which enables people to get out and about confidently; a flipper remote control to enable people to have fun and fill their day; a Motion Sensor Nighlight to enable people to feel safe in their own home; a toy companion pet to enable people to look after themselves and feel resilient.

All the products recommended can be bought from high street shops or online and most are not “specialist dementia” products. However, the ADAM developers identified ways in which standard products can be used to help people with long term conditions get on with life

“An Aladdin’s cave of wonderful things.” was how June described ADAM. Though sceptical at the outset as she had had some previous disappointments with IT, she was impressed with the way the tool worked. She was able to identify that Alexa ECHO might be a tool which would make a difference to her uncle Peter, whose health had deteriorated due to dementia. He now spends much of his time listening to songs and music and reading lyrics which has given him a great lift and led to a much better quality of life.

See case study Moira Gilfeather who cares for her husband, living with vascular dementia.