How Safe & Found Online helps people with dementia if they go missing

The 21st of August is World Senior Citizens' Day 2019, which aims to increase awareness of factors and issues that affect older adults. We're using this as an opportunity to highlight the amazing people and projects that are using technology to make the world a better place for older adults.

Reflecting that many entrepreneurs are already using technology to create solutions and services to benefit older audiences, AbilityNet introduced a new award category at our Tech4Good Awards 2019 last month, to help champion the increasing focus on older people in society and their changing needs.  

We were fortunate to receive so many strong applications. Here's an outline of the impressive shortlisted entries, and the winning idea from Safe & Found Online (S&F).

Winner of the 2019 Ageing Society Tech4Good Award: Safe & Found Online

"Of the half a million people in the UK with dementia who live in their own homes, more than 40% will get lost at some point, and about 25,000 will get lost repeatedly..." – University of Southampton, April 2018.

S&F has created a solution to help address this statistic. This social enterprise aims to give its users (generally people with dementia), their families and carers the peace of mind to know that should they be reported missing, the Police will be using the best information and technology they need to track them down.

S&F's Chris Cheshire explains the winning concept at the 2019 Tech4Good Awards Ceremony:

Safe & Found Online collect their award at the Tech4Good Awards 2019 In 2011, the Police developed 'The Herbert Protocol’ which allows carers and people living with dementia to complete a form recording all vital details of their family member or friend. In the event of them going missing, it can then be handed to police to reduce time in gathering this information.

S&F is a digital version of the Herbert Protocol, which combines a website and mobile phone app, allowing people to update their secure profile online, including the ability to upload recent/daily photographs – just like Facebook. So, at its heart it’s a Facebook profile linked to a GPS tracker on a smartphone. The Police will have access to important data immediately after a person registered on S&F is reported missing, a situation where every minute counts. 

North Yorkshire and Cheshire police forces have taken part in S&F field tests, posing as missing persons and being ‘found’ by colleagues. Chief Inspector Simon Newell who leads on The Herbert Protocol for Cheshire Police said of the latest trial in May: “...testing was very successful, if this could be replicated for missing persons with dementia we would no doubt save lives.”

Our 2019 finalists: Good Boost, Made Open and Music Memory Box

As already mentioned, we were fortunate to receive so many strong applications for the 2019 Ageing Society Award category at the 2019 AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards. Here are just some of the things we looked for from the finalists' entries: 

  • Meeting a clearly identified need in the community
  • Tackling a specific challenge or challenges that reflect the needs of an ageing population
  • Delivering a product or service that is innovative, high quality and inspiring
  • Working in ways which are sharable/replicable

Pool therapy for musculoskeletal issues

Good Boost's team of engineers, researchers and healthcare professionals joined forces to tackle the musculoskeletal (MSK) challenge in the UK, a range of conditions which affects 17 million people in the UK, principally those over 60 years old. MSK health problems include arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, inflammatory conditions, falls and falls fractures.

Exercise is highly effective in treating musculoskeletal disorders, but people who live with musculoskeletal disorders often find land exercise challenging and uncomfortable. Other barriers to individually tailored exercise that’s fun and social are pain, practical access and cost.

So, Good Boost aims to overcome these barriers, by delivering classes in local pools, for the same cost as a swim, with no waiting times. Using its collective expertise, the team has created an artificial intelligence engine to suggest a physiotherapy-style service of aquatic exercises. It offers options to address the specific ability and need of individuals, not the generic ability of the group. As a result, Good Boost is reducing the need for medication, avoiding surgeries, reducing pain and giving older adults back their independence.

Good Boost is designing and testing specialist software and devices to support more musculoskeletal conditions in addition to younger adults and adolescents. Its plan is to be operating in 115 UK locations by the end of 2020.

Getting communities together online 

Made Open is an online social network platform for communities. Created in co-production with the organisation, each platform helps communities of purpose or place to make practical use of community resources and connect around shared goals.

Bristol City Council, for example, wanted to create an online platform for social action and citywide volunteering. The Made Open team co-designed this feature with key partners in Bristol – any group or organisation in Bristol can now post, promote and manage their volunteering opportunities (and volunteers) seamlessly. The ‘Bristol Reading in Schools’ project has since crowdsourced 250 volunteers; mostly people of retirement age, who help children from years 1, 2 and 3 to improve their reading skills.

Administrators can create sub-accounts for older users who are digitally or socially excluded. This means that people without emails can have accounts.

Each uniquely branded platform connects peoples to their specific community. Other platforms by comparison tend to suffer from a poor user experience, minimal functionality, centralised control and an inability to create private configurations. For elder people, these small details make a difference. 

Made Open now plans to make the platform more relevant to health professionals looking to signpost people towards community resources (aka social prescribing).

"Music Memory Box is the best tool ever!"

“All the clocks, all the dementia products Mum didn’t take any notice - but this Music Memory Box it’s like magic! It has completely changed everything. She comes alive in an instant. In the whole experience of dementia... this is the best tool… ever.” - Daughter and professional carer for people living with dementia.

Music Memory Box on display at the Tech4Good Awards 2019Music Memory Box is a digital and physical tool for people living with dementia, their families and carers.

Its creator was inspired by her Great Gran, who had dementia. Music would ‘reawaken’ her, and help them to chat and bond. Later on, the creator wanted to find an accessible way for other people living with dementia to access important music and memories. 

Music Memory Box is a physical box that you can fill together with meaningful objects, music and photographs. It has been developed by Studio Meineck – a social design studio set up to create innovative products in the mental health and wellbeing sector. By placing a stick-on sensor on any object, like a shell, for example, you can link a song to play when you put it in the centre of the box. The music, familiar object and photograph combine together to help unlock and recall memories in a simple and tactile way.

This joined-up approach linking objects, music and memory acknowledges that one size doesn't fit all, and that there are infinite combinations of music tastes, identities, memories and lives.

After a successful kickstarter campaign in April, the Music Memory Box is now on the market place for pre-orders, and will be delivered in February 2020. 

Have an idea to submit?

If you're using technology to develop a product or service that could benefit older people in the UK, sign up to the AbilityNet enewsletter to be notified when registration opens for the 2020 AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards.

Find out more about the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards and check out this year’s winners.