In this project, the students conducted in-depth research on assisting patients with Alzheimer’s disease in remission. Through qualitative research, user interviews and other methods, the pain points and needs of users were clarified, and at the same time, the existing products for Alzheimer's disease in the market were investigated. The final outcome is an interactive product for Alzheimer's patients, combined with multi-sensory therapy, to alleviate Alzheimer's disease and strengthen family engagement.
A total of 850,000 people were diagnosed with dementia in the UK, with one in fourteen people aged 65 to 80 being diagnosed with dementia. One in six people over the age of 80 are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. That figure is estimated to rise to 1.4 million by 2040.
Currently, there is no known cure for dementia. Families need to pay the high cost of care for people with dementia over the age of 65, which accounts for more than 60% of the total cost of social care in the UK. Drugs aren’t the only way to treat or manage the symptoms of dementia. Many other approaches can help patients to have a better life with this condition.
Based on a survey of Alzheimer's disease stages and existing treatments, we decided to conduct interviews with intermediate-stage patients. On the one hand, patients in the middle stage of Alzheimer's disease begin to require special medical care, and the ability to act independently is severely reduced compared to the early stage. And mid-Alzheimer's is the longest stage and can last for many years. At the same time, compared with the late-stage of the disease, patients still have certain communication skills at this stage, and there are more opportunities for designing treatment or services for patients at this stage.
Because there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease, students hope to combine non-drug treatments to delay the disease, ease the user's continued decline in autonomy, and reduce the inequality among patients.
The engagement tool is designed for interviews with family members of patients, to guide the interviewees to share their memories with the patients, to help students understand the difficulties and pain points of the family members and patients in their lives. At the same time, because the subject is a sensitive matter, this engagement tool can also help students guide the patient's family to open up, and make the interview more engaging.
Through this engagement tool, students not only found pain points and needs, but also made them have strong empathy for Alzheimer's patients and Alzheimer's families in their design process. This is beneficial to a certain extent to their design.
They conducted four interviews with patients’ families. To discover user pain points and user portraits to derive corresponding design opportunities. They also interviewed a designer for Alzheimer's patients, two music therapists, and three Alzheimer's Scotland staff.
Based on the interviews, students generated the following key insights: Although social associations provide non-drug treatment, it's generally expensive or inconvenient. Alzheimer’s patients are facing decaying independence and unstable emotions. Alzheimer’s families hold a positive attitude toward public association but hesitate to try due to the financial cost and time commitment.
Getting fine care is challenging for lower middle and working class Alzheimer’s families because they have difficulties with finance and public association and treatments are generally expensive.
As Alzheimer families, would be eager if the patient could receive care at a low cost with a reasonable time commitment to allow them to focus on supporting the family while the patient is treated with good medical care.
How might the students improve the independence of the patient and maintain the same treatment level while lowering the care cost of the family?
The final output is a product called Cudby, which means something chubby you can cuddle. Cudby is an interactive music therapy product designed for Alzheimer's patients. It stimulates the sense of sight, hearing, and touch in Alzheimer’s patients, helping them to exercise their perception and even delaying the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The concept of Cudby is based on sensory stimulation. The four main functions of Cudby are cuddle it, hear it, see it, and touch it, or CHST.
Cuddle it: Students wanted Cudby to be presented in a way that would not cause users to resist it, but also to be a constant companion rather than a 'disposable' toy. Cudby has a certain amount of weight but is also soft, which will help to ease the user's irritability and make them feel safe.
Hear it: The NeoPixels of Cudby reacts to external music, thus increasing the relevance of the music to the user, visualising the music and adding interest.
See it: Cudby comes with different materials. By touching and manipulating different materials, users can exercise their hand dexterity and keep their brain stimulated. Students also hope that the materials will relieve and reduce anxiety on another level.
Touch it: Cudby comes with different materials. By touching and manipulating different materials, users can exercise their hand dexterity and keep their brain stimulated. Students hope that the materials will relieve and reduce anxiety on another level.
More: Cudby can also be used as a musical game tool, making sounds when the user taps the button, which can be used to create rhythms. Students hope it will also engage the family to accompany the patient and play with them using simple musical healing methods such as rhythm training, musical ensemble and composition.