£120k software will help dementia sufferers

Published: 19 August 2015 at 11:00

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Private company wins competition to work with Anglia Ruskin University on support app

Anglia Ruskin University will work closely with private firm POW Health to develop a first-of-its-kind software application to help dementia sufferers prolong their independence, thanks largely to funding from Innovate UK.

POW Health won a competition which looked at ways to use personal data to make it easier for people to use interactive platforms such as apps. Its winning submission, called Independence, aims to create a daily planning tool to help patients with early and more advanced stages of dementia, and their carers.

The company will create an information portal where dementia patients nationwide can use tools to help them live an independent life, find out more about their condition, how it is likely to progress and what support is available to them.

Currently 70,000 people in Essex live with dementia and caring for their needs costs more than £390 million per year. The burden will increase in the coming years – the number of people over 65 in Western Europe is projected to double between 2001 and 2040.

Professor James Hampton-Till, Deputy Dean for the Faculty of Medical Science at Anglia Ruskin University, said: "At the moment the only tools available to people living with dementia are static apps or paper-based systems which cannot be easily shared or accessed by care or service providers and do not take into account the complex needs of each individual.

"The loss of personal identity and the frustration of those living with dementia and their carers is a growing challenge. This project will directly address this and it will also save vital money for frontline service providers."

Ifty Ahmed, Chief Executive of POW Health, said: "We are thrilled to have been chosen to work with Anglia Ruskin University on a crucial project which has potential to help millions of people. Dementia costs society around £26billion per year, more than cancer, heart disease or stroke.

"It is vital that we use advances in technology to help deal with the problems that an ageing population will suffer and we specialise in supporting people who are managing long-term health conditions such as dementia."

The project will cost £120,000, with £76,591 provided by Innovate UK, and forms part of Anglia Ruskin's Smart Living Accelerator programme launched last year. This is a partnership between academics, frontline services, healthcare commissioners and technology companies, working on pilot projects using technology to manage the care of an ageing population.