In Touch

    Playing happy games

    Publication date: 01 September 2011

    Pleasant and meaningful activities, including individual activities for clients who wish to do something for themselves, may enhance quality of life of people with dementia. As touch-screen devices are relatively simple to operate and iPads can be used anywhere, we explored the impact of one-player iPad happy games on the well-being and behaviour of people with dementia.



    There is a growing interest in the quality of care for people with dementia. Their quality of life is also receiving increasing attention. Quality of life implies an enjoyable and fulfilling daily life. The In Touch project studies: whether playing simple games for fun (happy games) on an iPad affects the mood and behaviour of people suffering from dementia, whether it is possible to obtain information related to a care/treatment plan from the playing of happy games, and whether happy games can be a means of communication.

    Project description

    Based on new insights and experiences when employing multimedia and games in the treatment and care of people with dementia, care professionals have new questions in this field. These lead to the need for individual games that can be played independently and can provide data for the functioning of players with dementia. This is connected to the need for innovation and the desire to be able to offer more (tailored) activities. In our International In Touch consortium we studied the effect on elderly people with dementia playing happy games on an iPad in the three largest Care Organizations of Rotterdam (AafjeLaurens and Humanitas).

    The In Touch project consists of three parts:

    1. iPad Cover
      A new iPad case was developed. This cover was developed as a PhD project by an Industrial Design student, and was tested in practice. The cover ensures that the iPad's ease of use is more appropriate to people with dementia.
    2. Development of specialised games
      Based on expertise within Sheffield University, the information on the use of multimedia in health care institutions obtained in practice, and the observations and conversations with clients with dementia, three prototypes of special happy games were developed. These games have been designed to maximally address the needs and wishes of a client with dementia.
    3. Practice-based research
      In the first phase of the study, ten existing applications, so-called 'happy games', were introduced and evaluated in three different contexts: daily care, small-scale living and in the nursing department. In the second phase, the three special happy games were introduced and evaluated in the same locations.

    Students from different tracks work together on assignments and participate in this study. This happens in minor programmes, second year student projects and graduation projects. The new insights are incorporated in the educational content of both healthcare and technical courses and are made available for professional practitioners.