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Our Innovation team has led on the co-creation of a practical guide for anyone designing innovative products and services to tackle the challenges that come with dementia.


We developed this guide alongside a panel of co-creation experts, including designers, involvement specialists, researchers, social entrepreneurs, and people affected by dementia.

What is co-creation?

Co-creation is our ethos here in the Innovation team! It is the process of working with others to develop a new product or service. It could be anything from shaping the scope of a project, to designing the end-product.

So, why is this guide so important?

The Dementia and co-creation guide aims to inspire and enable designers, researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs to collaborate in a meaningful way with people affected by dementia. We hope that this will result in innovative products and services that improve quality of life and make the world better for everyone. 

“I think the next generation of inventors do need to get out on the ground and in people’s shoes to co-create solutions. I fear innovators are often stuck away in offices remote from reality.” – Alexander, family member of person living with dementia.

What can you find in the guide?

The guide outlines the value of designing with people affected by dementia. It contains practical tools and methods for co-creating effectively and a handy checklist for planning co-creation activities. It also sets out some best practice guidelines for digital accessibility. At the end of the guide, you will find a number of case studies to demonstrate how co-creation can work in the real world.

Alexander’s mother heavily relies on Alexa to answer her questions. In one example she gives, her mother asked Alexa what her husband’s name was, and the reply was ‘she should know’!  Alexander told us, ‘This is not an answer for someone who is seeking motivation and help.’

This experience highlights how involving people in the design of product can prevent fundamental issues from arising.

Who is the guide for?

The guide will be useful to anyone designing an innovative product or service for dementia. People living with or caring for someone with dementia may find the guide of interest, but it is intended to be used primarily by those who are co-ordinating co-creation activity, rather than taking part in it.

How will the guide benefit innovators?

It will enable people to explore the possibilities for innovating for dementia, expand knowledge of specialist co-creation tools and methods and support people to create impactful products which make a difference to people’s lives.

Read more and download our Dementia and co-creation guide.

Tell us what you think

If you have a hard-copy or the downloadable version of the guide,  please answer a few questions to help inform further developments. 

Thank you to everyone who has contributed their time, expertise and personal experiences, helping us to get to this stage!

This Dementia Action Week, we are excited to announce our four new Accelerator Programme partners for this year! As a reminder, our Accelerator Programme identifies, fosters and funds innovations and inventions to improve the lives of people affected by dementia.


We partner with innovators, engineers, entrepreneurs and others to bring life-changing products and services into the hands of people who need them the most.We are really looking forward to working with these four new partners to help develop their inspiring and very unique products.

Not only are we providing financial investment, but we will be linking them in with our networks to involve people affected by dementia, ensuring the innovations are accessible and available, and helping the products get to market quickly.

So, let us introduce them to you…

1. ‘Smart Socks’ from Milbotix

First up, we have Milbotix, who are creating digital technologies to enable better care. Their product, Smart Socks, sense rising distress in people living with dementia (and others who find it difficult to communicate) so their carers can intervene before things escalate.



Inventor, Dr Zeke Steer, quit his job and took a PhD at Bristol Robotics Laboratory so he could find a way to help people like his great grandmother, who became anxious and aggressive because of her dementia.

'That’s what motivated me: to find her a technological solution that might support care staff and family carers. I came to see that my great grandmother wasn’t an isolated episode, and that distressed behaviours are very common.'

The smart socks track heart rate, sweat levels and motion to give insights on the wearer’s wellbeing – most importantly how anxious the person is feeling. They look and feel like normal socks, do not need charging, are machine washable and provide a steady stream of data to carers, who can easily see their patient’s metrics on an app. 

Zeke and the Milbotix team will be testing the socks with people living with mid to late-stage dementia and developing the tech before bringing the product to market next year (2023). 

Visit the Milbotix website to find out more.

2. The Music Project Ltd

Then, we have The Music Project Ltd, who celebrates the positive experiences music-making brings to individuals living with dementia. 

By turning familiar objects into musical instruments, such as a piano Zimmer frame, or percussive walking sticks, they enable people to engage in meaningful activities and explore playfulness.

7f509f08c2a172f114af1dd6dbeebd77We will be supporting The Music Project to develop a set of products, with the ambition of all UK care homes having access to affordable music-making equipment.

Tom Maisey, from The Music Project, says, ‘This work explores the emotional experiences of people living with dementia and addresses the issues of isolation and depression in British residential care homes by connecting people through music and encouraging other methods of communication. My aim has been to improve the efficiency of how music sessions are delivered through a set of working prototypes to assist and encourage participation. They are an exploration into removing the stigma and intimidation that exist in conventional instruments; this has focused on turning familiar objects into musical appliances.’

Visit the Drumming Out Dementia website to find out more.

3. Start Voice Control

Third up, it’s Start Voice Control: an app that is designed as an integrated memory prompt and communication support to empower communication. It is designed by and for those living with memory-based complexities, particularly aimed at those in the beginning and middle stages.

Start Voice Control seeks to use machine learning, which is fully personalised, to support the person with their individual communication challenges, by gathering 'lost' vocabulary and recording memory loss patterns.  

dccdeea5828c930082d27d18ea3cfe54Carrie Jade Williams (pictured above), Director and Creator of Start Voice Control, was diagnosed with Huntingdon’s disease in early 2020.

Dealing with the beginning of memory loss as part of her Huntingdon's disease diagnosis and determined to not to let that shape her life, Carrie designed Start Voice Control.

‘Start Voice Control means individuals like me can keep on communicating, even when our brains are under attack from an illness. I live with the knowledge that one day Huntington’s disease will steal me from myself. This app has given me back my voice, opened up the world and allowed me to be part of it. I believe it can do the same for others like me.’

The app is voice-activated and can be used on a smartphone, tablet or a stand-alone unit. It responds based on an internal microphone up to 21.5 ft away and has the ability to run on a device at all times. It prompts and encourages communication through visual and word formation based on individual need: prompting individual words, word patterns (based on frontal lobe deterioration), word confusion and grammatical error – whether this helping someone to identify names of their loved ones, or prompting storylines when they’re watching television.

Start Voice Control ensures the individual requiring communication support can continue to express themselves as their memory needs become more complex.

4. eargym

And last, but by no means least, we have eargym – the new way to care for hearing before the need of hearing aids.

In 2017, the Lancet Commission on Dementia brought together critical evidence linking mid-life hearing loss to dementia, highlighting the fact that it’s the biggest amenable factor in 9% of all types of dementia.

The complete eargym experience helps people to discover their hearing health through;

  • convenient testing and progress tracking on their phone,
  • bespoke, enjoyable, immersive, auditory training games,
  • access to a support community and ongoing advice and guidance, which includes: personalised FAQs, and industry-specific advice for our customer base.

877a93b87809dd434b729cb443e18482The training focuses on challenging and strengthening the key hearing skills, including intelligibility in noise and localisation. It also stimulates key cognitive skills linked to listening and gaming, such as attention, memory and strategic reasoning.

eargym's first product to market will be launched in June 2022. We will be supporting eargym to involve people affected by dementia in shaping and influencing the development of the product through four product design cycles via their user-led design panel.

Amanda Philpott, eargym co-founder and CEO, said ‘A big part of what drives eargym is to build a product that can collect vital data about the correlation between hearing loss, social isolation, mild cognitive impairment and dementia. This collaboration with Alzheimer’s Society is very important as it brings with it access to the support and advice of people who really understand what it’s like to live with dementia. Thank you for working with us.’

Visit the eargym website for more information.

We are really looking forward to partnering with Milbotix, The Music Project, Start Voice Control and eargym and getting their products into the hands of people affected by dementia. We hope they follow in the success of some of our previous Accelerator partners, including Jelly Drops, HUG and Sibstar. We will keep you updated on progress, development and availability of the products in due course.

"I’m more creative than I gave myself credit for. I just need more confidence in voicing my ideas and different ways of doing things, knowing they may not be perfect, but that an element of that idea, thought or comment could be just what we need to build into or on top of another idea."

We have been working on an innovation sprint with the Physical Activity – Policy team at Alzheimer’s Society. We have been exploring how we can help people with dementia to be active as part of their day to day lives, as early as possible after diagnosis. Find out more about what we have been up to in our other update.

We asked Steve McFadyen, Senior Policy Officer – Physical Activity, how he has found his experience so far working as part of an innovation project team and through the sprint model of LIFE (Learn, Investigate, Find and Experiment). 

Over to Steve...

ae4126ed0d51297929f7f956350af37aI don’t consider myself a creative person, the most innovative thing I’ve done is make a whole bouquet of Lego flowers!

In a professional sense, (I like to think) I’m very organised and practical. But I’ve always considered myself a slow thinker. It takes me a while to read, digest, process and fully understand information before I feel confident enough to write or speak about it and add my thoughts into the mix.

Considering all that information about how non-creative I am and how on paper I would never be any use to an innovation project...we decided to work on a project within the Innovation team to develop a solution to help more people living with dementia move more as part of their day to day lives.

Here’s a bit about how I got on...

How did I prepare with no previous experience?

There was a period before the sprint started where I had to try and get a better understanding of the work, the process and learning from previous innovation projects, which would help get me thinking of how I could apply this understanding. I went through the Bring Dementia Out project evaluation (download available at the bottom of this page) and loved how people affected by dementia were at the core of the work being the main beneficiaries of the work and how important partnerships were in the success of development and a product. One thing I knew needed to be carried over into our work was the importance of measuring the impact and reach of the work. It’s so important all the way through to make sure the outcomes are evidence-based and can help us influence along the way!

I didn’t have any direct experience of how the Innovation team have followed this model. But all through my career, I’ve had to understand new methods, new databases, new people and a lot of other new things to learn. All my experience was there, and I just didn’t know how useful my previous work could be, but it was. I’ve always tried to put myself in other people’s shoes when working – trying to empathise with a person or situation. Working through this model involves speaking with a range of experts and people with lived experience, that contributes to diversity of thought. I didn’t need to have all the answers, I just needed the drive to challenge ideas, bring different perspectives into the conversations, and give us the best chance of coming up with a successful idea.

What have I learned individually?

This is a completely different way of thinking and working for me. I’m a planner, but this is stepping back and looking at the broader picture and spread of opportunities. Starting broad and not knowing which direction we are going in is challenging at times in my head, but it is really making sure we explore everything in the process to get to the right place. A habit in previous projects is to look to find a solution or a plan straightaway but for this, it’s important not to rush the early stages of insight and learning.

I’m more creative than I gave myself credit for. I just need more confidence in voicing my ideas and different ways of doing things, knowing they may not be perfect, but that an element of that idea, thought or comment could be just what we need to build into or on top of another idea.

f0e794177f824e5a8777e8b495cdc1a3I found some of the activities like ‘Creating Personas’ so much fun! This is where we build fictional characters based on the insights gathered in a project, telling their story about how a particular challenge related to them. I got into a flow and was able to do them much more easily than I thought I would, with guidance from the experts of course!

There are a lot of ideas, insight and nuggets of information collated along the way. With such a broad challenge and all the work that goes into it, it feels a bit strange to pick a solution and leave some ideas behind. However, all the insight is used in other ways to contribute to the wider programme of work, recommendations for other teams or organisations, but more than that, it’s all just useful learning to help how other ideas are developed in future.

What have I learned about how the Innovation team think and work?

The Innovation team follow the LIFE model (pictured bel- developed by Good Innovation) which I really like. They have a clear process of how to get to a solution but there’s so much flexibility within it to make it what is it. The end of each phase is reflected on to help shape the next. They really try to use the important nuggets of information and not leave anything valuable behind. And if it’s not needed for this project, it’ll go into the insight package to share with other teams.

8b6b395c8d73ae7ce7f8e3b8be583222I struggled for a while to trust the process as it was so new. We started off so broad with concepts and ideas – I couldn’t see where we were going and if it would work. I’m very visual with learning and not being able to picture what direction or what a solution would be was hard to do. But it works, so trust it.

I’ve also been impressed with how productive they are within sessions. They still find time for it to be fun, yet clear and efficient. Every session is prepared for, with key outcomes shared at the start to make sure we’re using time effectively. It’s such a simple thing but often gets overlooked and it really helps maintain focus and keep to timelines. It is a great combination of bonding us together as a team and getting the work done well and at pace.

And when we’ve blocked out time for a sprint session, it doesn’t mean we have to be on the call all the time. An example was where we joined a call to set up the task, went away to work on the task individually (off screen) and then came back to build on ideas and findings together. It was a refreshing way of making the best use of the time without feeling like we had to be on screen all the time together.

The Innovation team have a range of skills, knowledge and experience, and are continuously open to new ideas, challenges and flexible approaches to working. They proactively look for improvements and make changes to existing practice for future projects.

And back over to the Innovation team...

It has been a great experience bringing members of another team at Alzheimer’s Society onto one of our innovation sprints. We have been so impressed with how Steve McFadyen and Jenna Peel (Policy Manager – Physical Activity) have quicky picked up our model, tools and methods, and they really have felt part of the team!

55499fb164d0946d9470291c42e460beAn example of this recently was when we were building our paper prototype (see image to the right) and storyboard of the solution which we are taking forward into the Experiment stage of the sprint. Steve and Jenna were tasked to build these, based on previous examples, and instead of just using what we had provided, they went into the land of Mural (one of our go-to innovation tools) and produced some spectacular work, really bringing the solution to life (see the snippet of this to the right).

Working together has opened us up to new ways of thinking and inspired us to continue to adapt our process and model. It has brought together a great combination of skills and expertise, generated a lot of learning, freshness, and new ideas. A huge thank you to Steve and Jenna for all their insight, hard-working attitude, constructive feedback, and humour, helping us through each and every busy stage of the sprint so far!

Alzheimer’s Society is leading a project in partnership with Sport England to develop a strategy to support people living with dementia to become and stay active. As part of this, we’ve been working with the Physical Activity – Policy team at Alzheimer’s Society on an innovation sprint, exploring how we can help people with dementia to be active as part of their day to day lives, as early as possible after diagnosis.

What do we mean by ‘physical activity?’ Physical activity is anything that raises your heartrate – like dancing, walking, gardening, stretching or housework. It is not just sport and structured exercise.

What has happened so far?

We have been sprinting through the innovation LIFE model (pictured below - developed by Good Innovation) working with people affected by dementia and other experts on the physical activity topic area. We kicked-off the sprint process in January and have now arrived at a solution, which we are looking to prototype and test out in the real-world. More on that later…!


Learn and Investigate

The earlier stages of the sprint involved undertaking desk research, holding interviews and focus groups, and exploratory exercises. This was to help us get an understanding of the important challenges which need solving around physical activity and dementia, and who our key audience should be (the ‘users’ of our final solution). Collating a high level of shared knowledge at this early stage makes it much easier to build solutions later down the line, so they are based on real challenges, which we refine as we work through the innovation model.

We spoke to 20 people affected by dementia and 29 professionals, including but not limited to: care homes, services, policy-makers, memory clinics and GPs, social care and local councils.

We brought everything we had heard through these conversations into five main themes

  • Differing perceptions around ‘physical activity’: many people automatically think it is structured sport and exercise, even though it can be anything that raises your heart rate.
  • A lack of motivation from some people with dementia to be physically active, and a varying level of social support.
  • Cognitive impact on physical ability and physical activity levels: for example, balance issues, or concerns around the risk of taking part in physical activity.
  • Limited knowledge of the importance and benefits of physical activity, both for people affected by dementia and health and social care professionals.
  • Health and social care professionals not knowing who, where, when and how to encourage people with dementia to be more active.

Find: Finding solutions together

As part of the Find stage, we held three online idea workshops at the end of March. We brought together a mix of professionals and people with lived experience of dementia to come up with ideas for solutions. We presented the five themes and used these as a springboard to generate ideas.
61 ideas were co-created!


The Innovation and Physical Activity teams looked through every idea and shortlisted four, based on solution criteria set at the start of the sprint. These four ideas were shared with everyone who had been involved in the project alongside questions to help us decide which ideas to take into the next stage. The four ideas were: 

  • 'Borrow Me and My Doggy’: bringing purposeful and meaningful physical activity into the lives of people living with dementia, through providing them with two-to-one companionship with pet owners and their pets.
  • ‘Do it Diary’: a motivational resource to support people living with dementia to be more active, including an activity diary to record progress and an online community to provide peer support.
  • ‘Mind to Movement’: a one-to-one personalised behaviour change service to support inactive people living with dementia to increase their readiness to be active and to find ways to increase their daily activity.
  • ‘Nudge to Budge’: building physical activity messaging, prompts and guidance into communications and appointments along the dementia pathway.

We reviewed all the feedback received and based on this and our solution criteria, we picked one idea to bring forward into the Experiment stage.

We've reached the Experiment stage!

The Experiment stage is where we rapidly prototype our solution to get our ideas out of the office and into the real world. It helps us to get a proof of concept of a solution and an idea of the impact it may have in helping to improve lives of people affected by dementia, before looking to scale at a wider level.

We are engaging with various experts and people with dementia to help build and test our solution. We are not looking to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and will be using available resources and spaces for this prototype stage.

Based on all thefeedback we have received, the solution we are building and testing is: the ‘Feel Good Folder’, previously known as Do It Diary, along with an online version (including the Feel Good online community). We know everyone is different and people are motivated in different ways so there is a lot of variety in this idea to allow people to develop something that works for them in their lives now and adapt it in the future. We will also make these resources and tools available to professionals supporting people affected by dementia. 

We are looking to quickly build a prototype of the solution in May and test it out over the summer months. We will be gathering feedback and iterating our solution at each stage. We will then be exploring options to plan for scaling the solution from later in the summer.

The paper prototype of the solution:


Thank you

Thank you to everyone who has helped us to move quickly through this work by being flexible and sharing their experiences, co-creating ideas and helping us to understand how we can build this solution. We are really excited for this next stage and we’ll keep you updated as we keep sprinting through it!

You can read about Steve McFadyen’s experience of working on the innovation project team in his guest blog: My LIFE as an Innovator.

Here in the Innovation team we are determined to make great ideas a reality so we won’t let anything stop us, not even a pandemic!

Back in March 2020 we were about to start piloting a new innovation – the hospital journey tracker – at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (LDH). The tracker will provide timely email updates on a patient’s status in hospital to a nominated representative. The aim is to improve communication between family carers and the hospital, and allowing them to be more involved in planning for the patient’s discharge. We are delighted that after a two year delay, the tracker is now being piloted with real patients at the hospital.


Image: a patient status update email

The concept was the result of one of our innovation sprints looking at how we might reduce the amount of time people living with dementia spend in hospital unnecessarily. Our initial research had uncovered several insights about the challenges people face in hospital, and we used these to co-create some potential solutions together with people affected by dementia and a range of healthcare professionals. You can read more about our activity until that point in a previous blog.

An innovative collaboration

We knew it would be an ambitious project as building technology for the NHS is notoriously challenging. They say in innovation circles that you make your own luck. That certainly seemed the case here as by involving LDH in the early stages of the project we discovered the existing partnership between their discharge team and software company, Phew!. We jumped on the opportunity to collaborate with them to build an additional module for dementia patients on to their existing patient discharge management system.

“This is an incredibly exciting project, to improve patient outcomes. Many of us have experiences of loved ones with dementia and any support for carers during these times can only be of additional help.” - Matthew Burgess, Managing Director of Phew

When COVID hit our collaboration with the hospital was put on hold while the NHS dealt with the unfolding situation. Watching on as thousands of people with dementia endured hospital stays without the support of their loved ones, the potential for the tracker to help people became all the more clear.

“It’s such a shame because the tracker would have been so valuable at a time like this”. – Yvonne Weldon, Dementia Nurse Specialist

Although the long shadow of the pandemic still hangs over us we are delighted to now be starting work on the tracker once again. This has been made possible thanks to funding from the Sylvia Waddilove Foundation.

Testing and iterating

The pilot will run for eight weeks in March and April 2022. Patients living with dementia and their nominated friends or family members will be invited to sign up to receive the email updates. We will be gathering feedback from them and from the discharge team throughout and using data reports to monitor how the system is used. We will use what we learn to iterate the system as we go. We hope the evidence will indicate that the tracker enables people to leave hospital safely, and without delay, but only time will tell!

Natasha Morgan
Posted by Natasha Morgan (Admin)
4 months ago

Happy new year to you from the Innovation team! Spirits are high here as 2022 looks to be a bumper year for Innovation at Alzheimer’s Society. Here’s a taste of what we have coming up.

The hospital journey tracker is back!

Back in Tracker_email_image_we0bwdApril 2020 we were about to start piloting a new innovation with patients at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital – the hospital journey tracker. The tracker would provide timely email updates on a patient’s status in hospital to a nominated representative, improving communication between family carers and the hospital, and allowing them to be more involved in planning for the patient’s discharge.

Unfortunately, this work was put on hold due to the pandemic, but we are delighted that we are now in a position to pick the project back up again. The software is currently in development and plans are underway for the pilot to take place in the coming months.

Physical activity

For our latest innovation project, we are exploring how to break down barriers to physical activity for people living with dementia. This work is in partnership with Sport England and the focus is on reducing inactivity and supporting people to move more in everyday life. It is early-on in the ‘Learn’ stage of our sprint model, so at the moment we are researching the role movement plays in people's day to day lives - at home/in the garden, in care settings, in the community. We have interviews lined up with a range of people with insight into the topic area, and are excited to see where the project takes us!

Brand new Accelerator partners

The Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator Programme funds innovations and inventions that we believe can change the lives of people affected by dementia.  

The latest application round closed in November, with an incredible 53 applications. In the end, our judges chose a selection of exiting and very different products to take forward as partners for the coming year. We can’t share details just yet, but it’s safe to say they all have so much potential to make a difference for people affected by dementia. Watch this space for the announcement in May.

The innovation team has written a guide to co-creating products and services together with people affected by dementia. This approach is central to how we work as a team. We involve people affected by dementia at every stage of a project, from defining the topic area, through to developing ideas and testing out solutions. At its core, co-creation is about designing with people, not for them, to produce a high quality product or service that is appropriate for the individual and makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

The guide brings together our team’s knowledge with best practice case studies from academia and industry. It is intended for anyone designing products and services for dementia, including but not limited to entrepreneurs, engineers, service designers and researchers.

The content for the guide is completed, and is currently with a design agency to turn it into and engaging an inspiring resource. We hope to publish it in April.   


Natasha Howard-Murray
Posted by Natasha Howard-Murray (Admin)
8 months ago

We are excited to announce that HUG™ – a product that we have been supporting through our Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator Programme – is now available to buy!

HUG™ is a soft comforter designed to be cuddled by people with advanced dementia.

HUG new with logo

Why do people with dementia need a HUG™?

As dementia progresses, people living with the condition can become more isolated, agitated and anxious. Research has shown that the HUG™ can help with this and improve quality of life and enhance social interaction.

'I think a lot of people living with dementia don’t know how they’re feeling or why they’re feeling a particular way, and the comfort that HUG™ will bring people in those situations is just really calming, a soothing effect, and it makes you feel loved.’ (Chris Maddocks, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, living with dementia, pictured below)

Chris with HUG

As well as getting the feeling of a cuddle, HUG™ has weighted limbs and a soft body that contains a simulated beating heart and a music player that can be programmed to play a person’s favourite music.

How have we got to this stage?

HUG™ was developed by the HUG by LAUGH team, a spin-off company from Cardiff Metropolitan University. Our Innovation team at Alzheimer’s Society supported them through our Accelerator programme to continue to work with people with dementia and their families to help shape the product and packaging, with thanks to the Dementia Voice team. We have also provided them with connections to Brand, Training, Commercial Trading, and music and electronics companies, to help get the product to market and reach the people who need a HUG™ the most.

HUG™ is now available to purchase via our Alzheimer’s Society Online Shop or through the HUG by LAUGH website. HUG™ costs £150.00 (VAT relief price at £125.00, code: AT216). 10% of net profit goes directly back to Alzheimer’s Society.

HUG new green

Next round of our Accelerator Programme:
Please help to spread the word!

The third round of our Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator Programme is currently open for applications. The Innovation team are looking to partner with innovators, engineers, entrepreneurs, designers and others who have an idea for a product or service which could change lives. Accelerator partners receive bespoke innovation support and investment up to a value of £100,000, along with a 12-month partnership with our Innovation team. Please spread the word far and wide so we can get as many great innovators to apply as possible!
Submission for applications closes at midday on Friday 29 October.

Find out more 

Our Innovation team was joined by previous successful applicants to the Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator Programme on Monday 11 October to discuss their journey to date and answer any questions potential applicants had. Watch the recording of this webinar.

Natasha Morgan
Posted by Natasha Morgan (Admin)
11 months ago

You may have noticed that the hub has been quite quiet over the last couple of months. This partly because disruption from COVID has meant we haven’t had the opportunity start any new innovation sprints. However, we have been busy behind the scenes working on other bits and bobs. Read on to find out more...

Coming soon: How to co-create with people affected by dementia

Our newest piece of work has been drafting a best-practice guide for co-creating with people affected by dementia. The aim is to deliver a guide which will inspire creative and entrepreneurially minded individuals or organisations to design for and with people living dementia. It has a particular focus on using technology. Over 30 researchers, designers, engineers, and people affected by dementia told us what they would expect to see in a guide, and we are now collaborating with a small group of experts to bring it to life. This includes bringing together the wealth of knowledge and guidance which already exists. We’ve just finished the initial draft and look forward to sharing the final version in due course.

We have also been working closely with our three accelerator partners in various ways to help bring their products to market.

Konnect trial moves to the next stage

Back in May, eight people living with dementia had a Konnect device installed in their homes. They agreed to share their thoughts on how useful they found it and how they think it could be improved and we are currently in the process of reviewing the data of how they were used. The next step of the project is to expand the trial size and build some greater confidence in the feedback we have received so far, to make sure we are reflecting the voices of a range of people affected by dementia. In addition to this, we are beginning to explore whether the device could be more than a communication device and if we could use their user-friendly platform to host a range of content (from exercise to entertainment). It’s early days with regards to that but exciting nonetheless!

HUG and Sibstar to launch this autumn

The HUG team have been gearing up by gathering feedback on the product packaging from people affected by dementia, as well as a leaflet to go alongside it. You can pre-order your HUG on their website.  Sibstar has also been focusing on branding and marketing so they can get the debit card into the wallets of as many people affected by dementia as possible. Anyone who might find it helpful can register now at to be the first to hear when the card launches in September. It costs £4.99 per month and can be paused or cancelled any time.

Determined to make a difference

Finally, we promised to update you on the outcome of the innovation sprint on finance and dementia – a design for a specialist banking support line. We are having ongoing conversations with Santander about setting up a pilot service, however as you might expect, it can be tricky to get things going in such a large organisation. We’re hopeful that work on this will kick-off later in the year.

That’s all for now, but as always you can chat to us about innovation any time by emailing

My journey with dementia started about 15 years ago, when my Dad started showing signs of dementia, he was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011 and now lives in a nursing home.  Seven years later my mum was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She lives at home with help from me and my brother.

                                                       Jayne and her mum

There have been lots of challenges in caring for my Mum and Dad, but by far the hardest has been helping them manage their day-to-day spending securely. 

It’s this experience which inspired Sibstar - a new debit card and phone App which helps people with dementia safely manage their everyday spending.

So, as my Mum’s condition progressed, she got very confused by money.  Mum started over spending on groceries and things she didn’t need, making countless cashpoint withdrawals then losing the money, she fell victim to so many scams over the phone and gave a lot of money away to people on the street.  The money she and Dad had worked hard for all their lives was just disappearing in ways it would not have if they had they not been living with dementia. 

Despite trying everything to protect Mum’s everyday spending so that she could retain her independence, there was no suitable solution. Ultimately we were left with no choice but to take away access to her own money, which immediately led to a decline in her condition. This was so hard, but we were deeply concerned if she continued to spend at the rate she was there would be no money left to pay for her higher levels of care later on. 

We needed a way to keep Mum financially independent but financially secure as well, and that’s where the idea for Sibstar came from.

Sibstar is a highly secure debit card and app for people with dementia and their families. The person with dementia has the Sibstar debit card, it acts like any other regular debit card.  Then the person supporting them has the Sibstar app on their phone and together they decide how and where the card can be used. 

Our purpose is to provide people with dementia a way to remain financially independent whilst keeping their money safe and secure so they can continue to live life the way they choose.

                                    Smartphone and debit card

We were delighted to be selected last year as one of the Alzheimer’s Society’s accelerator partners.

With the help of the Society’s Innovation team we have been designing and developing our product directly with people living with dementia and carers.  This is really important to us, having the people who will be using Sibstar sitting at the heart of what we do will mean we develop and launch a product which directly meets their needs. 

The App will have all sorts of specific functionality designed to help people living with dementia. Such as the ability to set daily and monthly spending limits, switch cashpoint or online and phone payments on or off, freeze and unfreeze the card, you can also receive spend notifications. These settings can be changed at anytime, so our users can adapt how they use Sibstar as their dementia changes.

Developing Sibstar has been a really exciting process but not without its challenges – with no prior experience in banking or software development I’ve had to take advice from experts and learn quickly. It’s been scary at times too, giving up my job to working full-time on Sibstar was a big commitment, so I’m determined to give it all I have to make it a success.     

Having the support of the Innovation team has been invaluable. In just a few months, we’ve moved from having an idea we believe in to a functioning product. This wouldn’t have been possible without Alzheimer’s Society.

We aim to launch in September this year. The card has a monthly subscription fee of £4.99, and you can register now to be one of the first to try it out.

For further information:


Over the last year, we have all become painfully aware how much we miss being able to give and receive a hug. Many of us have felt a desperate need for physical contact, a touch on the hand, a warm embrace, and we know instinctively how this lack of intimacy has been detrimental to our sense of wellbeing. Think about how much more painful this is for those living with dementia or cognitive impairment, who have been unable to understand what has been going on in the world around them. We know that these feelings of isolation, separation and anxiety impact on physical health and fuel the inevitable decline of those living with dementia. Finding ways to alleviate this are vital, and HUG™ has been shown to be a product that can help when human cuddles are unavailable.


HUG™ is a soft comforter designed to be cuddled to help reduce anxiety and agitation. It contains a simulated beating heart and music player that can be programmed to play a person’s favourite music. The award-winning product has been developed from university research and has been tested over the last four years in hospitals, care homes and by people affected by dementia who are living at home. HUG™ was the recipient of two awards in the 2020 Tech4Good awards and a finalist in the Dementia Care awards in 2018.

The start-up company, ‘HUG by LAUGH’, is one of three businesses being supported by our Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator Programme through 2021. We want to ensure that HUG™ is commercially available to help make it available to as many people living with dementia as possible. HUG™ was designed originally for a person living with the later stages of the disease, however, feedback from our research suggests that anyone can enjoy a cuddle with HUG™.


Chris Maddocks, Alzheimer’s Society’s Ambassador (pictured above), has been helping to evaluate the product. Chris was featured in a film about using HUG™ in lockdown as part of the BBC’s The One Show, broadcast on 15 February 2021.

In the film, Chris comments, 'I think a lot of people living with dementia don’t know how they’re feeling or why they’re feeling a particular way, and the comfort that the HUG doll will bring people in those situations is just really calming, a soothing effect, and it makes you feel loved.' 

The first batch of HUGs™ is currently being manufactured and will be available to give much-needed cuddles to people later this summer. They are available to pre-order on the HUG website and it will be possible to purchase them from Alzheimer’s Society Online Shop later in the year.

The HUG by LAUGH team are thrilled to be collaborating with Alzheimer’s Society, as it gives people affected by dementia an opportunity to help shape the product and therefore benefit those who need a HUG™ the most.

For further information:

In November 2020, the Innovation Team began our latest sprint project on banking and dementia, sponsored by Santander. At each stage your involvement through the innovation hub has helped keep decisions grounded in people’s real-life experiences, so thank you once again to everyone who has contributed.

At the start of the project, you logged onto the hub and helped us narrow down the challenge area to...

‘how might we enable people affected by dementia to make better financial decisions?’.

This guided our research throughout the Learn and Investigate stages of our sprint process.

Getting to grips with the topic

We had limited knowledge about neither the most pressing issues around banking and dementia, nor any existing solutions, so we set about finding out more.

Our research involved…

  • Desk research - reports, money management guidance, bank websites, Talking Point support forum
  • 13  interviews with people affected by dementia
  • 10 interviews with a range of professional stakeholders including innovation specialists, Santander employees, dementia knowledge specialists, think tanks, charities and researchers
  • 25 survey responses from front-line bank employees
  • 4 ideasworkshops involving Society colleagues, professionals and people with lived  experience

Gathering insights

At this point, the team would normally gather for a day or two with a selection of snacks and a large box of post-it notes to analyse and theme everything we had read about and heard. However, due to coronavirus restrictions, we had to innovate ourselves and take our session online, using a virtual whiteboard called ‘Mural’. The image below was the output of 3 hours of work.  

Post it note analysis

Eventually, we identified four key insight areas:

  1. Overspending – People reported accidentally making repeat purchases and sometimes purchasing things they don’t need.
  2. Independence vs dependence – the importance of keeping someone safe without not limiting their freedom.
  3. Scams, fraud and financial abuse – too frequently people with dementia are taken advantage of, resulting in losing large sums of money.
  4. Difficulties with security clearance – forgetting passwords etc can be frustrating and limit’s people access to their money. In addition, carers struggle to provide the necessary support without being designated Power of Attorney.  

There was also a cross-cutting theme around the need for a trusting and understanding relationship between people living with dementia, their supporters, and banks.

Finding solutions

Next, it was time to get creative, as we entered our Find stage. We gathered 25 people across 4 online workshops. Each group worked through one of these insight areas, drawing on the goals and frustrations of some fictional ‘personas’ as well as their own personal or professional experience. Having such a diverse mix of people meant we could all bounce off each other, producing ideas we could never have thought of alone. At the end of the week we had collectively produced 66 ideas for solutions to the challenge area!


After the workshops, the team condensed these down into five concepts which were posted back on the innovation hub for you to comment and vote on. In addition, an amazing 169 Santander employees responded to a survey, adding some rich insights into how these concepts could support their customers. The concepts were:

  1. My Money Meeting – regular meetings with a financial advisor
  2. Account Angel Alerts – automated alerts to unusual spending
  3. Your money at your fingertips – fingerprint and facial recognition as security details
  4. Banking with dementia support line – specially trained advisors to support with a range of banking needs
  5. Interactive bank statement – accessible and meaningful statements to which you can add your own notes about purchases

So what’s next?

We’ve listened to your feedback and built on these ideas, and will now be taking forward … drumroll please… the Banking with Dementia Support Line!

Although there was merit in all five ideas, the support line came out top with a whopping 94% of 169 Santander staff saying it would be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ helpful. People affected by dementia agreed, saying that it would enable them to maintain control over their own money and would save families a lot of stress and worry.

“Having a 'one stop shop' to point them in the right direction of high-quality resources and tools to make everyday life easier would really help” (Carer of person with dementia).

The next step is to test the idea in the real world, hopefully with a small-scale pilot later this year.  Watch this space for updates!

Calling all Innovation Hub users - we need your nominations!

The Dementia Hero Awards 2021, sponsored by Tunstall Healthcare, will showcase the stories of people doing outstanding things during the pandemic – our dementia heroes.

The awards will recognise the inspirational achievements of those individuals, groups and organisations who care for people with dementia, those finding innovative solutions in research, and the campaigners & media fighting for the rights of people with dementia.

There are 10 award categories, such as excellence in dementia care, influencing change, inclusive businesses and our fundraising heroes, but we're here to ask you for your nominations for one category in particular - innovation.

The Dementia Hero for Innovation award  recognises individuals or groups who have developed a new product, project or service for people affected by dementia.

The Innovation team at Alzheimer’s Society focuses on developing new solutions to the day-to-day challenges of people affected by dementia through our sprint projects and our Accelerator Programme. We find innovative ways to overcome barriers to living well and we seek out and invest in the best new ideas of innovators and entrepreneurs.

But we know the work being done by our team is just the tip of the iceberg and there are an army of innovation heroes working to develop new products, initiatives and interventions that can help make it easier to live with or care for someone living with dementia.

It couldn’t be easier to enter, nominate yourself or someone who has inspired you for a Dementia Hero Award. Visit, nominations close on Friday 5 March 2021. 

This challenge is posted on behalf of Bernadette Porter @ NeuroResponse

At NeuroResponse we co-designed a new urinary infection care pathway with people and families living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Please see our 2-minute video on our website that explains the pathway.

We wonder if this care pathway would be useful for people living with Dementia?

Are you affected by dementia and have you needed to access emergency care for Urine Tract Infection(s)? Would you consider sharing your experiences to help shape and design this pathway? 

People living with Dementia are at risk of getting urinary infections due to a number of reasons including dehydration and abnormal signals to the bladder from the brain. A urinary infection can have an impact on a person’s quality of life and symptoms as it may make the person feel more tired, it may cause confusion or a change in behaviour or develop into something more serious if left untreated.

Of course, not all changes in behaviour or confusion in Dementia is related to a urinary infection but sometimes it is hard to rule it in or out so it can be either missed or treated with antibiotics when not needed.

We have govenrment funds to explore how to improve the care pathway shown in our video we created for patients with MS and offer it to more people including those living with Dementia – what do you think?

We would like 6 people affected by dementia to help us co-design this pathway, We will be looking to host three workshops to explore the pathway together over zoom in Feburary- March 2021.

We are also looking to have one member of the group support us in the role of a Citizen Scientist. A job role has been attached to this blog explaining more about this role and who to contact.

Can you share your thoughts and expreiences to co-desgining this pathway?

Please email Bernadette Poter directly at: to submit your interest in being involved in this project.

For further information about NeuroResponse please visit our

Too many people affected by dementia face barriers in their day-to-day lives. HUG™,  Konnect by Kraydel and Sibstar are three new products we’re supporting to tackle common challenges at every stage of the dementia journey. 

Coronavirus is taking its toll on many. Lockdown and shielding have had damaging side effects, adding to the challenges faced by people affected by dementia.

It is more important than ever to find new and innovative solutions to these challenges.  Whether it is feeling isolated from loved ones, coping with loneliness, or being vulnerable to fraud. Our Accelerator Programme identifies and fosters innovative ideas to improve the lives of people affected by dementia.

After everything the pandemic has thrown at us, we are excited to announce our three new Accelerator partnerships. These new products will;

  1. virtually connect people living with dementia and their families in the most accessible way possible
  2. provide a safe way for a loved one to be financially independent
  3. reduce anxiety and distress

We believe that everyone with dementia should be supported to live well, from a diagnosis through to the advanced stages. Let’s meet the partners and hear about the exciting products they are developing for people at each stage of their dementia journey.

1. Konnect by Kraydel

For people living independently away from family, keeping connected has never been more important. Konnect by Kraydel makes video calling simple by using your own TV.

What makes the Konnect system unique is that it doesn’t require any training. It is straightforward to install and designed to help people with dementia who cannot use the internet, a computer or tablet. Staying in touch with family, friends and carers through video calls is far more engaging than simple voice calls. By staying connected, families also have peace of mind that their loved one can remain independent for longer.

Visit Kraydel’s website to find out more.

2. Sibstar

Sibstar is the first highly secure, prepaid debit card for people living with dementia, along with an app for their carer.

Jayne Sibley created Sibstar while caring for her mother June, who is living with Alzheimer's disease. Managing money had become increasingly difficult for June, who had started to make repeat cashpoint withdrawals, give money away and fall for scams – losing thousands of pounds. 

Jayne tried all sorts of solutions, but had no choice but to stop her mother accessing her finances. This meant June lost her financial independence. Aware that other families were having similar experiences, Jayne then developed Sibstar. 

Sibstar allows people with dementia to remain financially independent, while giving security not available from existing banks. It gives both parties a simple way of accessing and managing day-to-day money, while making sure it remains protected and secure. Sibstar reassures families that the people they are caring for are less financially vulnerable, so they can remain independent and enjoy living their lives as fully as possible. 

Visit the Sibstar website to find out more

3. HUG™

Last but by no means least is HUG™, a playful and interactive comforter designed to be cuddled by people with advanced dementia. HUG™ has weighted limbs and a soft body that contains a simulated beating heart and a programmable music player. It generates the soothing sensation of giving and receiving a hug and allows people with advanced dementia to sit comfortably upright while providing relaxing support.


As dementia progresses, people living with the condition can become more isolated, agitated and anxious. There are currently very few products available that bring comfort, connection and meaning to the lives of people in the advance stages of dementia.

Research has shown that the HUG™ can improve quality of life, reduce anxiety and agitation and enhance social interaction. People affected by dementia have really experienced the benefits. A daughter of someone living with dementia said, ‘HUG is a comfort for Mum. Wherever Mum goes, HUG will go. There is a strong attachment and emotional bond.’ And from a person with dementia, ‘I fully endorse HUG. I really want a HUG… everybody needs a HUG!’ A care home worker shared, ‘Using the HUG has been an effective way of helping our residents feel secure and loved, it has been amazing to see the smiles that a HUG can bring.’

Visit the HUG™ website to find out more

We are really looking forward to partnering with these three organisations and helping them to develop their inspiring products. We will be supporting the partners to work together with people affected by dementia, making sure their innovations are accessible and available to the people who need them most. We will keep you updated on progress, development and availability of the products in due course. 


People affected by dementia have been amongst the worst hit by COVID-19 in terms of their health and wellbeing. Our ‘supergroup’ of Alzheimer’s Society’s Innovation team, the UK Dementia Research Institute (Care Research and Technology Centre) and the Association for Dementia Studies (University of Worcester) have been working together to help people affected by dementia to feel less isolated and better supported.

What is a Community Maker?

A Community Maker is anyone with experience or interest in setting up online communities and groups for people affected by dementia.

How can Community Makers help people affected by dementia?

By providing ‘Community Makers’ with the tools they need to set up or move their groups and communities for people affected by dementia online, we can help to increase reach, address people’s health and wellbeing, and reduce social isolation.

We hope this will be beneficial, not only during the current pandemic, but in the long term for people who cannot access face-to-face services and groups in their communities.

What have we been up to?

In our previous blogs on the project (29 May and 4 May), we shared insights from speaking with people affected by dementia and service providers around the impact of lockdown on them, and ways in which to help people connect.

Chris Maddocks, one of our Alzheimer’s Society Ambassadors who is living with dementia, said, ‘I’ve been thinking of it that this sudden lockdown is almost like a bereavement, because one minute you are being socially active, and you are doing lots of things, and the next thing – I was literally on lockdown.’

Since then, we have developed and co-designed two solutions that we now want to share with you:

  1. The Community Makers Network
  2. The Community Makers online toolkit

What is the Community Makers Network?

The Community Makers Network is a mutually supportive network for anyone with experience or interest in setting up online communities and groups for people affected by dementia. The network allows people to share knowledge, ideas and challenges with each other through online meetings and an online forum.

Community Makers on Zoom

Who might you meet in the network?
We have gone from 15 people in the original focus group to 50 Community Makers in the network, all who have been key in guiding the development of the project. We have been speaking with people from a diverse range of backgrounds, cultures and locations – from Swansea to the USA!

Community Makers you might meet in the network include: A Trustee of a Herefordshire-based dementia support charity, an Alzheimer’s Society Research Network volunteer with lived experience of supporting someone with dementia and extensive remote facilitation experience, a scientist exploring starting a group back home on Shetland, and a group facilitator supporting people affected by dementia from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds.

CM members directory

Engaging with people running diverse dementia groups has been extremely valuable in understanding additional barriers being faced in moving online and to help ensure resources are accessible and culturally sensitive. This week, we spoke with people who run groups from within Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities (including Irish and Jewish), LGBT+ communities and younger people with dementia. The importance of including people who do not have online access was clear from these conversations. ‘Within the Irish community and including travellers (but not unique to these communities), there is a very practical barrier. People may not have internet access and the technology, and cost is also a significant factor.’ This is something that we are working together to address through our online toolkit.

What is the Community Makers online toolkit?

The Community Makers online toolkit is a digital resource to enable people to move or set up dementia support communities online. 

Community Makers online toolkit

The content and design of our online toolkit for Community Makers has been informed by the insight and learning gathered from individual conversations and virtual workshops with people affected by dementia and the Community Makers Network.The toolkit has also been guided and co-created through the experiences of new ‘digital first’ support groups for people affected by dementia. Set up by our project partners, ‘Dementia Matters Here(fordshire)’ and the ‘UK Dementia Research Institute cohort’ have prototyped new ways of engaging and understanding the opportunities and limits of digital approaches.

What does the toolkit include?
The toolkit contains useful information and examples which people can take inspiration from and find something that works well for them in their setting, including:

  • Guides on various aspects of running an online meeting place or community centre (for example, how to include people who do not have access to technology)
  • A checklist on how to start an online community or group, signposting to useful resources.
  • Templates and ideas of different types of events that a group might hold.
  • Insights from groups that have set up online communities – sharing both successes and overcoming challenges to give people inspiration of what is possible.
  • A directory of members from the Community Makers network.
  • A blog space to keep up to date with the project.
  • A contact page to find out more and get involved.

The toolkit is now publicly available for you to take a look at
Please note that it is still in development, as we add to it from our continuous learning.

CM checklist

What might you learn?

Here are a few insights so far from some of our Community Makers. You can read more on our insights page on the digital toolkit. 

  • Preparation is key –  Prior to the session, ‘a talk with the person wishing to join-in, a simple written explanation of what to do (with pictures, if possible) and an end-to-end run-through of a meeting all helps.’
  • A hybrid approach – ‘Creating pre-recorded sessions with elements of personalisation is an effective way of including people at a pace and time that they are comfortable. And we have also found that the videos are beneficial and watched by a much larger audience.’ 
  • Keeping the group size small – no more than 12 participants. ‘We have had a couple of sessions where there have only been four participants and these have turned out to be some of the best we’ve run, with members really opening up about themselves, their lives and past careers.'
  • Helping to make getting online accessible – ‘Through a Community Makers discussion on the best approach, it was agreed the solution should include personalised, pictorial step-by-step how-to guides – device specific. These guides can then be printed and delivered to people in their homes for them to follow as a manual while learning how to use their device.’ This Community Maker has worked with another member of the network and together, they have developed a skeleton ‘how-to’ guide template for Android tablets to share and disseminate with others who need it.

What is next for Community Makers?

We want Community Makers to be used as widely as possible and we are exploring opportunities for scaling. We believe that resources like the Community Makers Network and the online toolkit will help improve and grow online provision and support many people who want to set up online communities but do not yet have the knowledge or confidence they need to do so.

The pandemic is still gathering pace, and there continues to be a high demand for digital support. We need long-term sustainability of online communities in preparation for future lockdowns, particularly as people affected by dementia are likely to be amongst the first to re-enter isolation if struck by future pandemics. We need to equip people with digital skills and understanding, through existing and trusted relationships. And when finally, face-to-face services are available, we need to remain connected with those who cannot access support in person. We need to accommodate an inclusive hybrid approach to support digital connection and physical meet ups so that all people affected by dementia feel less isolated and are better supported.

How to get in touch

  • Are you a ‘Community Maker’ and interested in joining the network and being part of this project?
  • Are you interested in helping us to scale ‘Community Makers’?

Please email us on

Many organisations within the third sector are needing to innovate. Nesta (an innovation foundation helping to turn bold ideas into reality and change lives for the better) wanted to find out if new partnerships with startups can help tackle some of the challenges that organisations are facing.

Earlier this year, we contributed to Nesta’s new report, ‘Better Together: How startups and the third sector can collaborate’, which was published in July. We talked about the learning and experiences from our Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator Programme, where we work with startups and invest in innovations and products to help improve the lives of people affected by dementia.

Nesta describes the report as 'the first of its kind to describe how third sector organisations and startups can work together for mutual benefit. Although collaboration is difficult to get right, there is much to gain when the two worlds align.'

The aim of the report is to help the third sector and startups:

  • Understand the value of collaborating and assess whether it is right for them.
  • Identify the necessary steps to prepare for, design and carry out collaborations – and the key challenges to anticipate.
  • Learn from the experience of others – featuring examples from our Innovation team’s work at Alzheimer’s Society, Friends of the Earth, the Children’s Society, Versus Arthritis and others.

Together we create

From this report, we will be looking at the recommendations shared and consider how we may integrate some of these to improve our innovation offer at Alzheimer's Society. For example, having a dedicated Innovation trustee could help in encouraging innovation further at the organisation. Someone with experience in this field and an understanding of the benefit of working with startups could help to champion the importance of innovation and new partnership opportunities across the organisation.

Through our Accelerator Programme, we have learnt a great deal from our partners with each bringing their own creativity and mix of skills to the programme, our team and organisation. By working with these startups, we can harness the development of new and exciting ideas, products and services that can help to improve more aspects of people’s lives and wellbeing. We encourage our partners to involve people affected by dementia by connecting them through our networks. Together, they build and test the innovations, making their end products more successful, accessible and beneficial to people affected by dementia. It is inspiring to see the passion that they have in making sure their creation gets straight into the hands of the people who need them most.

Want to find out more?

  • You can read more about our 2019/2020 Accelerator partners here.
  • If you have any questions about the report, please contact Charlotte Reypens at

Lady in a care home trying a Jelly Drop

Over the last year, Alzheimer’s Society has been delighted to partner with Jelly Drops through our Accelerator Programme. This programme supports brilliant innovations that can make a difference to people with dementia, fast.

Designed with insights from personal experience

Jelly Drops were designed by Lewis Hornby following his grandma’s struggle with dehydration. Lewis’ grandma had dementia for 7 years, but 2 years ago her condition dramatically declined, she became completely unresponsive and was rushed to the hospital, the family were told to expect the worst.

But it turned out she was just dehydrated, and after 24 hours on IV fluid she was back to her normal happy self.  Lewis’ spent a month living in his grandma’s care home and Jelly Drops was born out of a fundamental understanding of why Lewis’ grandma and others like her struggle to drink.

Jelly Drops are sugar-free sweets designed to boost your daily water intake. They’re 95% water and contain added electrolytes. They’re solid all the way through, making them easy to pick up, but also break up easily in the mouth.

Boosted by the Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator Programme

After successfully applying to Alzheimer’s Society’s Accelerator Programme, Lewis and the Jelly Drops team received a £100,000 investment and worked with our Innovation Team, helping them bring Jelly Drops to market.

Over the last few weeks weeks Jelly Drops team have begun to provide their water sweets to some of the most vulnerable people in society living in care homes. We are now very excited to announce that Jelly Drops are ready, the team are taking orders on their website and starting to ship the products out! The demand for Jelly Drops has been huge and the team are scaling up production as fast as they can to keep up with demand.

To get hold of your own Jelly Drops, visit the website

Over the past 18 months the Alzheimer’s Society Innovation team has worked with the RAF Association to understand and tackle challenges that people in the serving RAF community face when caring for family members with dementia.

Together, we ran an innovation sprint to learn about the topic, investigate the experiences of serving personnel and their relatives, find a range of creative solutions and experiment to test out the most promising ideas.

Navigating Dementia

We’re delighted that the RAF Association is launching the outcome of this innovation project today. Navigating Dementia provides an online hub created specifically for people in the serving RAF community who are caring for family members with dementia.

It complements the support already provided by the RAF, by linking people with other RAF carers and families affected by dementia, providing a vital knowledge hub and steering people towards further resources and support. The online hub was created with generous pro-bono support from CGI, a leading defence and security software and IT services supplier.

Making a difference to carers and people with dementia

Colin Capper, Head of Research Development and Evaluation at Alzheimer’s Society, said, ‘We’re delighted to see the launch of this new online hub, which will make a huge difference to the dedicated carers of people with dementia in the RAF family. Our Innovation team worked closely with RAFA to tackle the real-life challenges faced by people affected by dementia within their personnel.’

‘Getting access to crucial face-to-face support services is difficult for many carers, particularly during the current pandemic which has hit people with dementia hardest. ‘Navigating Dementia’ is a fantastic example of a practical solution. This online hub will make the world of difference, not just to the carers themselves who may be feeling isolated and struggling to get respite, but to the people with dementia they care for.’

Responding to people’s needs

RAF personnel who have caring responsibilities face particular challenges. Frequent relocation and deployment means that many RAF families are caring for a parent with dementia when not living close to them.

Rory O’Connor, Director of Welfare and Policy at the RAF Association said ‘We knew from our research and pilot projects that members of the serving RAF community wanted to be able to find relevant information in one place and to link with other people in similar circumstances. So we have created a forum to discuss topics, ‘ask the expert’ webinars, an events calendar and opportunities to plan self-supporting groups and meet-ups. There are also links to resources and information, regional breakdowns of dementia support, space for people to share their stories and answers to frequently asked questions.’

Increasing support

The drive to improve support for carers of people with dementia, catalysed by this innovation project, is set to grow further over the coming year. The RAF Association has plans to broaden the reach of the online hub to the wider RAF community, supporting veterans as well as serving families.

Later this year, a second phase of the Navigating Dementia project will begin, building on another solution developed through the innovation process. This will being face-to-face training courses for serving RAF personnel and their managers, generously supported by the RAF Association’s High Wycombe Branch.

The Alzheimer’s Society Innovation team is proud to have played a part in helping the RAF Association achieve its goals of creating new ways to support carers, and we are looking forward to hearing about the continued impact this work will have in the coming months and years.

We need your help

Our Innovation team is only able to support these projects thanks to people’s generous donations to Alzheimer’s Society. If you find this work valuable and interesting, please help more people find out about it by sharing this blog post on social media, or even support us with a donation.

In this blog Jon Wingrave, who manages Alzheimer’s Society’s online shop, explains how they reach out for feedback on their products to help decide which products to sell and guide the advice they offer.

Combating isolation during the coronavirus pandemic

The responses to our Innovation Hub and much of the feedback that Alzheimer’s Society has been getting through our Dementia support line, Talking Point online forum and our new Companion calls have demonstrated that people living with dementia are feeling increasingly isolated and frustrated as a result of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Alzheimer’s Society’s online shop has seen a marked increase in sales of our range of daily living aids that help people with dementia and their carers to be more comfortable in their homes and support independence and safety. These include reminder clocks to keep track of time, easy to use telephones to stay in touch, specially designed crockery to help with eating and drinking and products to help with washing and keeping hydrated.

Not surprisingly it is the products that help to combat isolation that have been the bestsellers such as our range of simple music players and dementia friendly games and activities designed especially for people living with dementia. Particularly popular are aquapaints that allow the user to create colourful images using only water and a brush, colouring books, traditional games such as Snake and Ladders and our fantastic range of jigsaws that also help stimulate memories and conversation.

Stickers available on the online shop to help with navigation.Informed by people with lived experience

We take our products out to Dementia Voice Groups of people living with dementia and their carers to test and evaluate. This gives us a fantastic opportunity to experience the products being used first hand, ask questions and get invaluable feedback on all aspects of the product from packaging and product design to set up, instructions, how it works and crucially whether people think the product is something they would want to buy and if it’s value for money.

The feedback helps us decide which products to stock and helps shape the information, advice and guidance offered to customers through our online shop and Daily living aids catalogue where we often include these reviews alongside pictures of people using the products.

The feedback forms the basis of a regular consumer panel article in Dementia together magazine, which shows readers a range of helpful products and shares the valuable insights of people affected by dementia that might help them decide if a product is suitable for them or their loved ones.

Recently we’ve covered specially designed menswear and popular items designed to help with day-to-day challenges. We also feedback to the product designers, manufacturers and suppliers and many have responded positively by making improvements to the products, instructions and packaging as a result of feedback received.

Increasingly we are encouraging product designers and manufacturers to share their ideas and prototypes so that people living with dementia are able to input into the earlier stages of product development and Alzheimer’s Society has begun to working partnership to improve and develop new products.

The coronavirus has been a challenge to our evaluation process as our review panels were unable to meet up as usual but we have worked with our Dementia Voice team to arrange for products to be delivered and tried out at home and we have our first Zoom panel coming up to discuss a range of games and activities we sent to people to have a go with. The feedback from the home testing and Zoom panel will feature in an article in the next issue of Dementia together magazine.

Share your ideas

We’re always looking at ways to improve our product evaluation process and would like to get more people affected by dementia involved in this process. We’d like to get your thoughts on how we could do this and hear from people who would like to be involved. Please email

Importantly, 100% of profits from our shop help support Alzheimer’s Society’s vital work supporting people affected by dementia, so please visit our shop if you’re interested in any of our living aids and activity ideas.

As with anything in innovation, we are working quickly and responding to the changing needs and climate all the time.

In one of our last blogs, we shared that we’ve been working with the Helix Centre at Imperial College London (also part of the UK Dementia Research Institute Care Research and Technology centre) and Meeting Centres to innovate to help people affected by dementia remain connected and supported whilst in isolation.

At a time when face-to-face support services cannot take place in person, we want to help equip ‘Community Makers’ (people running groups or wanting to run groups online) with the tools they need to provide specialised, virtual support for people affected by dementia. Not only do we hope this helps people during the current pandemic, but in the long-term, we hope this will provide support to those who do not have or cannot access services and groups in their communities.

Through innovating virtually, we have been gathering insights from experiences of both people affected by dementia and group facilitators, and co-designing together as we want to ensure our solutions are based on their needs.

What are the key milestones we have coming up?

We are bringing together our ‘Community Makers’ focus group, and they met together for the first time on Friday 29 May. We have been discussing what would be most helpful for people who run services online and explore the current barriers in leading virtual groups and how to overcome these.

Screenshot of a zoom meeting with members of the Community Makers focus group

They are also feeding back on the solutions we are developing, which includes a web-based resource to help provide ideas, recommendations and guidance for people who are running groups. This may include support around: choosing technology, onboarding, different types of events for different audiences and purposes, online etiquette and good practice, how to include people without digital connection, governance and internet safety and so on. Within this, they will help to develop a community of ‘Community Makers’ to share insights, ideas and resources amongst each other.

Secondly, the Dementia Research Institute are engaged with a group of people affected by dementia who they are inviting to take part in piloting an ‘online community centre’. Whether they are interested in entertainment, arts and culture, physical exercise or looking for support and information, they will be able to join live group sessions and open discussions in the safety of their home through video and messaging functions.

We have our first ‘Coffee and ideas session’ coming up, which is being facilitated by one of our Alzheimer’s Society Research Network volunteers. From this, we’ll be able to get an understanding of people’s experience of being part of the online community centre and an idea of the type of sessions they would want to join in the following weeks.

Here is a mock-up of what an Online Community Centre may look like:

Online community centre prototype

In addition to working together closely with these groups over the next few weeks, we are piloting another online community centre with a new group of people affected by dementia being brought together virtually in Hereford in June (through Meeting Centres). This will all inform our ‘Community Makers’ solution which is looking to go live for people to visit at the end of July.

We’ll keep updating you as this piece of work progresses, and you can read more about this work through Helix's blog on Medium.

I am currently a Fellow for Zinc, a venture builder that runs a 9-month programme where entrepreneurs come together with the aim of building new social enterprises from scratch. Zinc aims to tackle society's biggest challenges using science to guide new ventures. Each programme has a mission. The current programme, which kicked off on 30 September 2019, aims to add five more high-quality years to later life.

Through this, I met two fantastic entrepreneurs, Michelle Cheng and Alex Rignall, who are co-founders of Provie, an early-stage, mission-led company building better incontinence solutions. It has been great to be connected on this piece of work, particularly as it tied in with an innovation sprint our team was leading on around ‘Continence and going to the toilet’, which you can read more about in our previous blog.

Now over to Michelle Cheng, co-founder of Provie.

The idea for Provie came about when we first met John and Evelyn, a couple in their mid-70’s living in North-West London. In early 2014, John was diagnosed with mild frontal lobe dementia and since 2019, Evelyn had become John’s full-time carer. We initially sat down with them to learn more about the challenges of being an at-home carer for a loved one. Evelyn is a strong, kind and knowledgeable woman who fell naturally into her carer role as she used to be a nurse. She detailed the balancing act of constant care, household tasks, paperwork, meetings and appointments, but while all these seemingly insurmountable tasks were manageable in her eyes, recently there was one thing that Evelyn painstakingly felt was the last straw. John had started to lose control of his bladder and bowels.*

The reality is, this is not uncommon for carers like Evelyn. Incontinence is one of the main reasons for people moving into care homes, but as we looked deeper into the prevalence of incontinence in society, we realised that this was a huge issue that affects at least 1 in 4 people in their lifetime. It also doesn’t discriminate, with people of all ages being affected.

The stigma around bladder and bowel leakages means that more than 50% of people never seek help. For those that do, the process is often convoluted and there is no easy and quick fix. People often rely on bulky pads to manage their condition, however current products are dehumanising and embarrassing to wear, leading to low self-esteem and social isolation.

Alex and I felt that for a problem of this magnitude, people deserved better. We’ve started our company with the commitment to empower people affected by incontinence in three ways:

  1. Better absorbent products that are highly functional and look and feel just like normal underwear.
  2. Accessible content providing support, education and advice on the topics that matter and aren’t being answered well right now. You can see this here.
  3. A community platform for people to share experiences, knowledge and support as well as a place to bring in experts to answer questions around identified topics.

The first product we have developed is disposable underwear for light to moderate bladder leakages (shown below), which we are aiming to ship to customers by the end of the year.


Our vision is for anyone experiencing continence issues to be empowered through innovative and inspiring products that help best manage their condition to suit their lifestyle.

Want to get involved in the development of this product?
We’re committed to working together with people affected by incontinence. We’re always open to listen to your experiences, so please share your thoughts with us at and let us know what you think needs to be done better or even just to reach out. We’d love you to follow our journey by joining our mailing list at

*Please note, the experiences mentioned in this article are true but the names are made-up to ensure people are not identifiable.

We have had a fantastic response to our emergency COVID-19 activity on the Hub with people sharing their experiences in the current crisis and their ideas for innovations which could overcome their challenges. A theme which has come out strongly is how social isolation is impacting people affected by dementia in the community.

Through the Hub, we were approached by the Helix Centre at Imperial College London (also part of the UK Dementia Research Institute Care Research and Technology centre)  who have risen to the challenge. Together, we are working to support networks and communities to get online and create meaningful connections through “virtual community centres”. 

The concept of this ‘virtual community centre’ is an online meeting place where people affected by dementia can come together to take part in a programme of interactive events and discussions through technology with video-conferencing capabilities and messaging functionality. We are currently evaluating existing platforms to assess their accessibility, as a simple and intuitive interface is required. Different means of communication in addition to video is preferable to allow for varying degrees of interaction. Sessions and discussions could include an art class, music, physical exercise groups, peer support for carers, and informative discussions about dementia.

Our aim is to work alongside existing networks and recreate, online, the core functions of dementia services and groups which are usually delivered face-to-face. We also hope to bridge the gap between digitally connected and unconnected members by incorporating offline activities and a potential buddy scheme.

The team is working at pace to build and test this concept. We are co-designing it with people affected by dementia and also group leads from existing services. By listening to their experiences, we can ensure the virtual community centre meets people’s needs appropriately and effectively. We’ve already had various conversations and virtual workshops to understand current gaps, what has been working well, and what needs improving. Over the next week or so, people affected by dementia and group leads will be trying out the technology and a programme of initial sessions pulled together from the feedback received so far.

We are excited to be working together on this and will keep you updated as it progresses!

Helix blog 1

Over the last few weeks there’s been great discussions happening in the hub activity on COVID19. Thank you to those who have joined the conversation so far. The activity will remain open so please do continue to share any new challenges as they arise.

We have been sharing these insights on an ongoing basis with our colleagues from across the Society, who have been hearing similar stories through their own channels. Together, we are painting a picture of how coronavirus is affecting people affected by dementia and taking action to provide much needed support.  

As the coronavirus situation evolves, so does our innovation response. Here are just some of the actions we have taken so far:

We’re pleased to be collaborating with the Helix Centre from Imperial College London, to develop an Online Community Centre. This will address your challenges around isolation, lack of activity, concerns about losing skills and carer respite.

We have also applied for funding to develop a Dementia First Aid Kit – a tool to guide carers in times of crisis in order to avoid people going to hospital unnecessarily. This issue is not a new one, but its impact is particularly acute right now.

We are distributing 500 Google Nest devices to care homes across the country to help residents to stay connected with friends and family.

In response to concerns about people not getting the food they need, our colleagues are calling on government and supermarkets to ensure people with dementia are included in the increased risk category, so they can get priority access to food and medication.

They are also working with key partners in government, utilities, financial services and housing to make sure they protect people from scams

Finally, there is lots of work going on to share activities for people with dementia and their families to do at home. This includes working with partners including Sport England and Wildlife Trust.

As always, our priority remains to listen to the challenges that you are facing, and to design solutions together to help address them. Watch this space for opportunities to get involved in the coming weeks. 

Natasha Morgan
Posted by Natasha Morgan (Admin)
Apr 8, 2020

A month ago, we would never have guessed we would be building solutions to support people affected by dementia through a pandemic, yet that is where we find ourselves.

The spread of coronavirus has changed all our lives, but the impact has been felt particularly strongly by those affected by dementia, many of whom were already vulnerable and isolated. At Alzheimer’s Society we’re doing all we can to focus our resources on supporting those who need us through welfare calls, online information and influencing relevant organisations.

As innovators, our team have been keeping a close eye on the way both Alzheimer’s Society and wider society has adapted to deal with the situation.

We all must adapt and find new ways of doing things. This is what innovation is all about.    

We have had to change how we work as a team, pausing some projects in order to focus on coronavirus, and finding new ways to do things online. This week, we brought together 16 people for a virtual ideas workshop to come up with potential solutions to address continence issues. Normally we would hold this in a room with tables, flipcharts, and plenty of post-it notes, so the online format was a first for us.

More widely, we’ve been inspired by the speed  and creativity with which communities have rallied together. From mutual aid groups to clapping for key workers and spreading hope with rainbows in windows. 

As always, we want our response to the crisis to be grounded in what people affected by dementia want and need so we can create an effective solution, together.

This begins with the latest activity on the innovation hub: COVID-19 and dementia - your challenges.

Visit the activity page and share the challenges that you are facing now, as well as your concerns for the future. Comment on other people’s posts. Vote to show what matters to you. Share any opportunities you know of for us to collaborate with other organisations to produce solutions which work.

          Let’s take on coronavirus together!


Our Innovation team supported two projects through our Accelerator programme last year. You may remember reading about one of these in our guest blog back in September on the mobile video support tool, ‘Refresh’, by How Do I?

Refresh kit

Let’s find out a bit more from Taryl Law (from How Do I?) about the development of Refresh over the last few months, through their valuable work with the Refresh Test and Learn Group.


What is ‘Refresh’?

As a reminder, How Do I? is an assistive technology company that want to help people with dementia live independently at home for longer. They have developed ‘Refresh’, which is a mobile video support tool that can link helpful personalised videos to objects in the home. 

What has happened over the last few months?: Refresh Test and Learn Group

After some initial development of Refresh with people affected by dementia, 17 pairs of people (one person with dementia and a carer, partner or friend) signed up to take part in the Refresh Test and Learn Group: an at-home beta testing programme to help in the development of the mobile video support tool. Recruitment was open to people affected by dementia across the entirety of the UK. Seven pairs maintained engagement with the testing team over four months, up to the completion of the final feedback session.

This involved the Refresh product being posted to the homes of the members of the group, with some receiving loaned Android phones to test the technology. Some members received the product and demo phones through an in-person session at a location of their choosing, and these members were observed opening the packaging and setting up their Refresh account.

Throughout the duration of the group, a single dedicated member of the How Do I? team was in touch with participants for gathering feedback and troubleshooting. Testers responded well to this and often proactively contacted the team by email, phone or text when they ran into difficulty. Testing, troubleshooting and providing feedback was most frequently done over the phone, with the occasional set of questions answered over email or in-person. The feedback was gathered three times: the first session focused on the packaging and onboarding process, the second on the apps themselves, and the final session helped us to understand the attitudes and opinions of the members of the group after having used Refresh.

The How Do I? team are still analysing the data from the group in order to provide a full picture of findings from the testing. You can find out more detail about what the Test and Learn group did and further information on the key findings and learning in our downloadable document shared below.

In summary, some key findings emerged quite consistently and clearly across the group. These included:

  • More information and guidance could be provided on planning videos and testing out the technology.
  • Time invested in user experience testing is time well spent – most found the ‘user experience’ and design accessible.
  • The benefits of using the app outweighed the time and effort to get it set up.
  • Some found that taking part in the group increased their confidence in trying out new technology.

 Refresh quote

Key learning to takeaway

The How Do I? team have learnt a lot over the last 12 months, but particularly from the Refresh Test and Learn group. The three pieces of learning include:

  1. Make no assumptions about who is and isn’t open to using technology to improve their everyday lives: It is exciting that there is a large and vocal community of people living with dementia on social media. Through their engagement on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, they are able to educate the public, express their views and make connections with others in the dementia community. In addition, many people living with dementia today have had long and celebrated careers in technology. Alongside these communities, there are many others who are not as visible, but who also stand to benefit and take an interest in learning new digital skills. Throughout our testing and recruitment, we have worked alongside many people who weren’t immediately identifiable as being digitally included, “techie”, or otherwise likely to be interested in trying out and testing a digital product. We now have a core group of champions who are excited to share their experiences with Refresh across both their digital social networks as well as their real-life groups of friends, colleagues and contacts.

  2. Remote, unmoderated testing can successfully generate helpful insights and actionable feedback: For our early user experience research, we primarily worked with people face-to-face to engage with prototypes that helped us get our final product right. However, we were pleased overall with the quality and quantity of the feedback we received through the mostly-remote Test and Learn Group. Between phone calls, photos and surveys, it is our view that we have been able to get a good picture of what has worked well for participants and what requires improvement.

  3. Work as flexibly as you can without reducing the quality of the feedback: It was important to us that our group was as participant-led as possible. For us, that meant that we provided as much flexibility as possible for participants as it related to how, when and for how long we got in touch. We initially created a discussion guide and line of questioning for each of the feedback interviews. We established early on in the testing that our plans for each session needed to be abbreviated, as the sessions we had planned were overly long in practice. The interview questions were amended to reflect only the most important aspects of what we needed to know at each stage. Still, the discussions over the phone were as short as seven minutes and as long as 1 hour and 40 minutes. Some testers had taken detailed notes and had much to discuss, whereas others preferred a more off-the-cuff approach. These two approaches worked well together.

Thank you

Both the Refresh Test and Learn Group, and our Accelerator Programme experience as a whole, are now coming to an end, under highly unusual and challenging circumstances of the global outbreak of COVID-19. We want to express our gratitude to the members of the Test and Learn Group, who generously provided their time and insight in order to help us create a better product for people living with dementia. We are also incredibly grateful to Alzheimer’s Society for the opportunity and support. We are proud to have been able to work with such skilled and passionate colleagues and have benefitted immensely from your direction and advice. 

Refresh kit 2

From the Innovation team’s perspective, it has been fantastic to ‘buddy-up’ and work alongside How Do I? in the amazing work they have been doing with Refresh to help improve the lives of people affected by dementia.

How Do I? are looking to work with other partners to take their exciting mobile video support tool forward. They are also seeking follow-on investment to bring ‘Refresh’ to market. To find out more, please do get in touch with Taryl Law at and you can check out their website too:



Natasha Morgan
Posted by Natasha Morgan (Admin)
Apr 8, 2020

The Innovation team were kept busy during the first few months of 2020. We brought the hospital project to life and challenged our misconceptions about continence issues.

Unfortunately, the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic has required us to shift priorities to ensure all people affected by dementia get the support they need at this challenging time. We’ve put these projects on hold and look forward to picking-up where we left off when things get back to normal.

For now, we would like to share where we are up to…

How might we ensure people affected by dementia get the immediate support they need to leave hospital safely and without delay?

Our solution, the Hospital Journey Tracker emerged from a series of ideas workshops involving 7 people affected by dementia and 25 health and social care professionals. We came up with 100 ideas overall. After several rounds of shortlisting the Hospital Journey Tracker was felt to be the solution with the potential to make the most immediate and significant impact for people affected by dementia.

The Hospital Journey Tracker is a system which emails status updates to a named patient representative to inform them of what is happening now and what is expected to happen next in a patient's care. These updates might include that a patient is undergoing medical treatment, having tests, or that planning in taking place for discharge. We found people leave hospital quicker when they’re well supported by a carer or loved one that is kept informed, able to assist in in hospital assessments and to plan for discharge arrangements. We hope in making processes more transparent, the updates will facilitate conversations between people supporting someone with dementia in hospital with health professionals. From our feedback, people affected by dementia saw the impact this could have and professionals could see how efficient this could be in the future.

To build the tracker, we teamed up with Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (L&D) and our software partner called Phew!. L&D and Phew! were already working together to build a patient discharge management system. This helped accelerate the development process as we could build on the existing system, rather than having to create a new one from scratch. We worked as a close team throughout, taking the lead from Yvonne, Dementia Nurse Specialist, on what would be valuable yet practical to implement in the hospital setting.

Once we had an outline of what the tracker might look like, we went back to people affected by dementia who had been involved previously. We asked them to feedback on the wording to go in the status updates, and on the information sheets which will be handed out to patients and their families during the pilot. Now, all that was left was to build the tracker itself and to launch the pilot in the hospital.

A prototype of the email update: 


Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic hit just as the software development was due to begin and as demands on the hospital increased, we had to postpone the project. It’s a real shame as Yvonne at L&D agreed that something like the tracker, which allows people to be involved with a patient’s care from a distance, would have been so valuable in this time when people are not allowed to visit their loved ones in hospital. This only spurs us on even more to make sure it gets built in the future.   


Continence and going to the toilet

Back in November, we selected ‘Staying dry – continence and dementia’ as the topic for our next project.

Continence and going to the toilet is a taboo topic that doesn’t receive attention, so we wanted to open up the conversation and look for new ways to support people affected by dementia. Once we started learning about the topic area, it very quickly became apparent just how significant it is.

Compared with people without a dementia diagnosis, people with a dementia diagnosis have approximately three times the rate of diagnosis of urinary incontinence, and more than four times the rate of faecal incontinence. This can be related to problems with the bladder and bowels or related to symptoms of dementia such as not being able to find or recognise the toilet.

We investigated the topic by reading over 30 documents and speaking with 27 subject experts, and seven people with personal experience. We also spent a day observing in a care home, and even bought some pull-up continence pants for ourselves.

Our research identified three key themes:

1. Promoting continence – helping people stay continent is really important, but staff and families aren’t aware of how to do this, and too often incontinence pads are used as the first rather than last resort.

2. Managing incontinence – when people do need containment products such as pads, they should be the right product for the person, and of a sufficient quantity for them, but too often people aren’t receiving the best product for them, or enough of the products to adequately meet their needs.

3. Stigma of continence issues above and beyond the stigma of dementia means that many people don’t seek help until they reach a crisis. Stigma can be exacerbated by healthcare professionals who sometimes consider that continence problems are just to be expected amongst older people, especially people with dementia. These attitudes go against expert guidance and can prevent people from getting adequate support

In March, we moved into the Find stage where we look to find solutions. We were determined not to let the Coronavirus pandemic stop us, so instead of our usual face to face ideas workshops, we held two ‘virtual’ workshops, involving 14 people with a mix of personal and professional experience. This was the first time we had done this, so we were pleased that it worked so well. We were spurred on by the passion of everyone in the session who produced some excellent ideas.

             People holding workshop on zoom

We will be posting these ideas on the Innovation Hub and asking you to vote and comment on which you think we should develop further. There may be a delay in us moving to the next stage while we focus on innovating to support people affected by dementia through coronavirus.


There are over 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia. Some of these people are LGBT+, yet a previous innovation sprint revealed how many aren’t getting the support they need.

Everyone’s experience of dementia is unique, but there are many additional challenges that LGBT+ people affected by dementia face, such as:

  • LGBT+ people with dementia may experience past memories more vividly than recent ones. They might believe they are living in a time in which being LGBT+ is still illegal and fear repercussions.
  • Trans people with dementia may also experience stronger memories of the time before they transitioned. This can make day-to-day activities, such as dressing and using the bathroom, confusing and distressing.
  • Some LGBT+ people may experience stigma, and fear discrimination when sharing information with health and social care providers.

Alzheimer’s Society worked together with people affected by dementia, national and local organisations and LGBT+ communities in the development of the Bring Dementia Out innovation in 2018 to 2019. The aim of Bring Dementia Out was to help LGBT+ people affected by dementia feel more comfortable in coming forward to access the information and support they need. A number of resources were developed and tested over a two-month period in Brighton and Hove and in Greater Manchester. This included a video sharing people’s experiences, and a booklet and webpage with steps on how best to support people and signposting to useful organisations and information.

Bring Dementia Out saw great results thanks to the dedicated working group, which included volunteers with lived experience, Alzheimer’s Society colleagues and the partner organisations. Together, they reached LGBT+ people affected by dementia and also helped to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced within the communities and amongst health and social care professionals.

One of the biggest achievements is that they key organisations involved are now taking the innovation forward to lead on scaling it at a wider level. This includes LGBT Foundation, the National Dementia Action Alliance, The Guinness Partnership, the National LGB&T Partnership and Switchboard.

If you want to find out more about Bring Dementia Out, visit the LGBT foundation website, or contact the Bring Dementia Out Programme Coordinator, Claire Days, on

LGBT+ flag with two people in United Against Dementia T-shirts

If you are supporting someone with dementia in hospital and getting frustrated with things moving slowly, you are not alone. We look at some of the key challenges faced by people affected by dementia in hospitals as they move towards discharge, and what can be done about them.

Hospital bed

On average, people with dementia stay in hospital around four times longer following a fall than those without dementia. This isn’t acceptable, so Alzheimer’s Society’s Innovation Team is doing something about it. 

We’ve heard about excellent initiatives going on to prevent people with dementia staying in hospital longer than necessary. Unfortunately, we’ve also heard many stories of where things could have been better.

But where there are challenges, there are also opportunities.

That’s why we’re working with people with personal experience of hospital admissions, as well as health and social care professionals, to find new ways to prevent people with dementia from being kept in hospital longer than necessary. 

What are the challenges for people with dementia in hospitals?

1. Communication breakdown

Time and time again we heard how a breakdown of communication in hospital can slow things down. This can be because of the ways information is passed between someone living with dementia, those who support them, and health and social care professionals.

People told us they didn’t always feel confident asking for the information they needed. Wards are busy places, and it can be difficult to find the right person to speak to.

What people told us:

“I don’t know what I needed, but I didn’t get it.” (Person living with dementia)

“It can be easier to get a CT scan than reach the family and get a good history.” (Consultant)

“I don’t think either doctor was wrong, but who was most right?” (Family member)

What can help?

Preparing questions for health and social care professionals in advance and having a named person to speak to can take away some of the stress.  

2. Access to care services

While we know there is a shortage of community care services, where they do exist there are other issues which can prevent people accessing them following a stay in hospital.

Poor access can stem from a lack of knowledge of the available options, or a misunderstanding of the support that might be appropriate for people living with dementia. Additionally, there are assumptions that people with dementia need to go into a care or nursing home in cases where simple adaptations could allow them to stay in their own home.

What people told us:

“They wouldn’t offer him rehab after his stroke. They said, ‘we don’t set targets with Alzheimer’s.’” (Family member)

“The night-sitting service isn’t appropriate for people with dementia. They come twice a night, it’s confusing.” (Physiotherapist)

What can help?

Do your researchwell in advance of leaving hospital, so you can make an informed decision on the support you’ll need. Check out the advice on our website. 

3. Avoidable delays and late discharge

There can be practical delays on the day of discharge with forms, medication and transport.

Both people with lived experience and professionals told us of times when things had not gone smoothly on the day of discharge from hospital. These included long waits for everything that needs to be put in place. For example, a person with dementia was fit for discharge at 5pm on Friday but had to stay in hospital for the weekend as there was no transport available.

More concerning is that we heard of people with dementia being sent home late at night, without appropriate clothing, and without the support they need to settle into their environment. This can be disorienting, and sometimes leads to people being readmitted to hospital. For this reason, best practice is to prioritise people with dementia, so they get discharged before midday.

What people told us:

“It’s not a rule, but I like people to be home by 6:30pm as doctors aren’t around in the evening and it is when the care team changes over.” (Care home manager)

What can help?

Unfortunately, much of this can be out of your control.Why notencourage your local hospital to sign up to the Dementia Friendly Hospital Charter to improve care for people living with dementia? 

4. Inactivity

The longer someone with dementia spends in a hospital bed, the more they lose their physical strength, cognitive ability and personhood.

Small activities can make a real difference, but all too often staff on the ward do not have the time or facilities they need to keep someone active. Often this falls to family and friends, which adds further stress to what is already a challenging time.

What people told us:

“I understand why they spiral into aggression. They’re just bored. I wish we could do more on the ward” (Nurse)

“Often the reason for admission is not the reason for their decline” (Social worker)

What can help?

Many dementia wards now sign up to John’s campaign, which advocates for carers of people with dementia to visit throughout the day to support a person if they can, however and whenever necessary. 

What we’re doing to improve hospital experiences for people affected by dementia

We’re kicking off 2020 by building and testing a potential solution together with people affected by dementia and professionals. Watch this space for an update and more learning in the Spring. For further information, email  

Please see below a guest blog from Hemal Dias, inventor of stablspoon which gained the most votes on an earlier Innovation Hub challenge linked to the Alzheimer's Society partnership with the Design Council's Spark Programme:

Growing up, I had a close family friend named Ben. Having taught in the same school, he was a good friend of my mother’s and a well-renowned author in Sri Lanka.  Every year I would visit him, and every year his hand tremor would slowly worsen. It was painful to see a person I cared dearly about struggle with most day-to-day tasks. Even food, which used to be a passion for Ben, had turned into a battle. Moving food from bowl to mouth, something that I had taken for granted, was fought by his shaky hands which caused food to spill everywhere. I tried to help him by buying a specialised spoon but was shocked to find that effective solutions cost over £150 – affordable to only a few, yet needed by many more. I knew this could be achieved for cheaper, so I embarked on my mission.  

stablspoon started off as a third-year project at university to help people with hand tremors, including those with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Essential Tremor. When the handle of the stablspoon is shaken, the food in the spoon’s bowl remains still as if no tremor was present. Unlike competitor products which use costly electronic systems, our mechanism relies only on mechanical components such as springs. This allows us to reduce the effect of a hand tremor by up to 70% with a mechanism costing a fraction of the price of competitors. 

Hemal Dias

Following many insightful discussions, we realised that tremors don’t only impact physically but also socially and emotionally. People are embarrassed to eat in public and many existing solutions in the market are unattractive and automatically brand individuals as having a disability. We’re focused on creating a product which is aesthetically pleasing and wanted not just needed.  We’ve also teamed up with occupational therapists and physiotherapists to research the ergonomic needs of people living with dementia and incorporate these findings into the development of a spoon which anyone can comfortably use. 

With the generous support of Alzheimer’s Society and the Design Council, stablspoon has progressed beyond just a third-year project. We recently won the Design Council’s Spark 2019 competition, allowing us to receive further funding and coaching to bring our spoon to the market. We firmly believe that eating comfortably shouldn’t be expensive and that we have the solution. Currently, we’re still focused on refining our design but hope to release stablspoon by December 2020 for a price around £40.

Hemal at Spark

You can find out more about us by visiting our website, following our Twitter @stablspoon or by liking our Facebook page.

‘We started a conversation about something that we were told is just not talked about, but we and many others have been talking about it ever since. We hope that sex, intimacy and relationships will no longer be seen only as a problem or a behaviour that needs to be “managed”, but as a human right to be respected and supported.’ (Beverley Page-Banks, former Innovation Team member)

In 2018, the Innovation Team embarked on a challenge with Good Innovation to help understand the experiences of people with dementia, their families, and staff in relation to sex, intimacy and relationships, and develop and test an effective solution to reach the unmet needs.

Together with people affected by dementia and other health and social care professionals, we developed Lift the Lid: a ‘workshop in a box’ for care homes to run their own sessions to help embed and create a new internal culture around sex, intimacy and relationships.

In October 2019, we received an international Service Design Award. We would like to thank everyone involved in the development of Lift the Lid, including the people affected by dementia involved, and the care homes who helped to test Lift the Lid (Bupa, Four Seasons, and St John’s Trust).

Lift the Lid open

Why the topic of: sex, intimacy, and relationships?

Traditionally, going into a care home is about focussing on the health care needs of a person, but in doing so, other personal and less visible needs, including sex, intimacy and relationships (such as holding hands, having a cuddle, sharing a bed) may become unmet.

Some care staff had said they had never considered residents’ sex, intimacy and relationship needs at all. Others said they didn’t know how to broach the topic and were concerned about issues of consent or lacked clear guidance.

We learnt from speaking to care home staff that they wanted to get this right but didn’t know where to start.

What is Lift the Lid?

We worked with care homes to create a ‘workshop in a box’ to challenge staff perceptions and behaviours through three creative activities.

The pack provides everything needed for care homes to run their own session(s) and can be delivered over two to three hours either at once or in individual modules and includes:

  • challenge perceptions around sex, intimate relationships and people affected by dementia
  • provide a framework for respectful management of in-the-moment situations
  • help align on a shared set of values and actions for your care home.             

‘Lift the Lid normalises a conversation that is needed but kept hidden. The activities give staff the understanding, ability and confidence to respond in an appropriate and respectful manner, and to not react out of embarrassment and fear,’ she says. ‘It will help us to provide dignified care.’ (Care Home Unit Manager).

Lift the Lid care home

What’s next for Lift the Lid?

We launched Lift the Lid in November 2018 at the National Dementia Congress in Brighton where it became available on Alzheimer’s Society’s Online Shop.

Since then we have received orders for over 190 units, the majority of which have been delivered to care homes across the UK and even in Australia! Based on the care home orders we have received so far; we have established that Lift the Lid has a potential reach into 682 care homes across all of the care groups who have already purchased it! Some of our other orders have gone to specialist memory services, NHS teams, community care providers, councils and universities.

We recently co-presented Lift the Lid at the National Dementia Congress on Thursday 7 November with Jenny Davies, Head of Care and Nursing at Sunrise Senior Living and Gracewell Healthcare. At present, Sunrise Senior Living and Gracewell Healthcare have tested Lift the Lid across their homes in the South West, with positive feedback and a noticeable impact highlighting cases, which needed further support. They now plan to roll out Lift the Lid across the remainder of their 46 care homes from December onwards!

We would really value feedback from people who have ‘Lifted the Lid’ on our workshop in a box, so that we can understand more about the impact of Lift the Lid on you as an individual, your organisation, possibly others you work with and people affected by dementia. We are also interested to hear about whether there are plans to roll Lift the Lid out further within your workplace.

Feel free to share your experience of Lift the Lid by emailing the Innovation Team at We really would love to hear from you!

Further information

  • Please note: We would never encourage care homes to adopt blanket tactics around sex and intimacy, or to do anything that would put residents or staff at risk. Instead, Lift the Lid helps care home staff to create their own policies based on individual need and consent.
  • Find out more about the development of Lift the Lid.
  • It is available to purchase from Alzheimer’s Society’s Online Shop.

After the Dementia Friendly General Practices Project in Nottingham and Derbyshire came to an end back in 2018, we were aware that there was a need to explore this area further and so with what we had learnt from that project, we set out to identify the challenges General Practices and people affected by dementia are currently facing. Michelle Davies, Senior Innovator, has written this blog to update on progress, and ask for feedback on two prototypes (details at the end).

Keen to take on this new project, the Innovation Team started researching this area and began by applying the LIFE model of innovation. In keeping with our approach to innovation​ ​we began by identifying the challenge and then framing this as a question:

‘How can we help General Practice to better meet the needs of people affected by dementia and better understand pathways to further support?’

We wanted to ‘learn’ about the work that was already taking place within General Practices for the benefit of people affected by dementia across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We needed to research over 20 existing projects and contracted service provision involving General Practice and a range of organisations. Our aim was to delve into what seemed to be working well within those projects, what wasn’t working so well, what was surprising and what we wanted to explore further through interviews.

We were interested to learn about the range of work taking place, both short-term funded, time limited projects and also longer-term services commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups and delivered by Alzheimer’s Society or other organisations. This led us to interviewing a range of stakeholders and experts in this area, including Commissioning Managers, other dementia related organisations, NHS Patient Experience Leads, research fellows and more. By doing this we gained a greater understanding of the challenges faced by both people affected by dementia and General Practice.

We set out to ‘investigate’ these challenges further by speaking with GP’s, other General Practice team members and importantly people affected by dementia, to hear about their experiences when visiting their GP.

We have heard GP’s talk about the time pressures they are facing when seeing patients and how limited time makes it difficult to gain an insight and a real understanding of the impact that dementia is having on their patient’s life.

GP’s and people affected by dementia also spoke about wanting to know what happens next, who does what and when, from pre-diagnosis to end of life. Some GP's shared their thoughts about how difficult it is to signpost and/or refer patients on to suitable services when they have little knowledge of available local and national services for people affected by dementia.

In total we have spoken with 115 people to gather a range of insights. Some other themes to arise from our discussions with GP’s and people affected by dementia focused on: issues with continuity of care; multiple GP’s involved in a patients care; annual reviews requiring greater consistency with a person centred approach; greater knowledge and understanding of dementia; limited dementia training; difficulties managing expectations; timescales for referrals to memory clinics; social prescribing being seen by some as the answer for all and many more thought provoking points.


workshop at Alzheimer's Society

On hearing the challenges faced by GP’s and people affected by dementia, we started to think about how we could ‘find’ solutions to help both GP’s and people affected by dementia.

During our creative thinking workshop, which involved people affected by dementia and a range of professionals, we started to develop ideas for solutions for the challenges and then we asked people to vote for their top three solutions.

GPs workshop


After gathering feedback from over 70 people on the top solutions, we are pleased to share that we now have 2 solutions, which have made it through to the ‘experiment’ stage and have been developed as paper prototypes. They are the Dementia Journey Map and Annual Dementia Appointment for General Practice Teams. We would love to have your feedback on these prototypes, which will help determine the next steps such as testing in the real world!

Dementia Journey Map

Annual Dementia Appointment for General Practice Teams

Many thanks

Michelle Davies,

Innovation Team


Thank you so much for visiting the Alzheimer's Society Innovation Hub!

We know that life with dementia can come with big challenges. We believe innovation can support people to live well with dementia by taking on these challenges.

Through our Innovation Hub you can share with us the challenges you are facing - whether you are living with dementia, taking care of someone or have just seen something you believe could be improved to help people live well with dementia.

By sharing the challenges people living with and affected by dementia face, our team can focus on the big issues and innovate to find solutions that can change lives. 

Don’t have a challenge for us to work on right now? Check out those submitted by other users, vote on the big issues, ask questions and comment. The more people with an experience of dementia we hear from, the better.

We will also continue to keep you updated with the work the Innovation Team is doing and ask for your feedback on solutions we develop to the challenges we take on.

Anyone can join the Innovation Hub so if you know someone who could share their expertise, whether that is experience of dementia or as an innovator who might help us with solutions, please share this link with them: 

Get signed up and start contributing today!

In the Innovation Team at Alzheimer’s Society, we’re committed to creating bold and innovative solutions to tackle challenges, together with people affected by dementia. As well as hearing people’s ideas through the Innovation Hub, we partner with enthusiastic innovators through our Accelerator Programme.

Last year we invested in two promising projects bringing creative solutions to challenges that people with dementia face around hydration, and completing tasks or remembering activities.

Now we’re launching our call for applications again. We’re offering bespoke business support and investment up to a value of £100,000, along with a 12-month partnership.

Our call is open to innovators, engineers, designers, developers, entrepreneurs and anyone with a great idea. If you have an idea and the enthusiasm to follow it through, we can help with the tools and resources you need to make it a reality.

The call for applications is open from 8th October until 7th November, and you can find out more on our website.

Accelerator Programme cartoon image

We are looking for applications from teams or individuals at any stage of the product development journey, from a great idea that needs testing through to proven products that need a push to maximise their reach. Your idea could be a simple product that makes life easier for people living with dementia, or a new service to improve support.

If you know anyone with a great idea and the dedication to make it happen, please let them know about the Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator Programme.

Simon Lord
Posted by Simon Lord (Admin)
Sep 26, 2019

Alzheimer’s Society is delighted to be partnering with the Jelly Drops team to bring their fantastic product to people living with dementia.

Lewis’ story

Lewis’ grandmother Pat is living with dementia and was sadly hospitalised due to dehydration. Inspired by his grandmother’s love for sweets, Lewis put his innovative skills to the test and developed bright, raindrop shaped sweets known as Jelly Drops. The sweets are made up of 90% water and other electrolytes to make them even more hydrating.

Lewis with his grandmother Pat

Lewis and the Jelly Drops team have worked closely with Pat and other people with dementia to develop their fantastic product. The team were also recently awarded the people’s choice award at Pitch@Palace.  

Bringing Jelly Drops to the people who need them

Alzheimer’s Society is delighted to be supporting Jelly Drops over the next year through our Accelerator programme

Our panel of experts and people affected by dementia worked with the Society to select Accelerator partners who receive £100,000 to continue to develop their product and bring them to the people who need them faster. 

Over the next year Alzheimer’s Society will be working closely with the Jelly Drops team to continue to develop their brilliant product alongside people affected by dementia and bring it to the market.

Jelly Drops Team


Dehydration and dementia

Dehydration is a common issue for older people and especially those with dementia.

Often people living with dementia will forget to drink or will not be interested in drinking. Unfortunately this can lead to confusion and even hospitalisation.

This effect is often exaggerated as the symptoms of dehydration can be confused with the symptoms of dementia. This makes it more difficult to spot dehydration in people living with the condition. 

Can I purchase Jelly Drops today?

At this stage Jelly Drops are not available to buy as they are still in development.

Alzheimer’s Society will be working with the Jelly Drops team to support them to develop their product and make it available as widely as possible to people affected by dementia.


For more on Jelly Drops:

We will keep you update on the Innovation Hub but check out their website, this BBC Breakfast video and their facebook page


By Tom Casson/Taryl Law (How Do I?)

We’ve now been working with Alzheimer’s Society through the Accelerator Programme for 3 months. We’ve been busy taking advantage of the intensive support they're providing, and our project is off to a great start! We've travelled across the country, racking up over 1000 miles in our efforts to meet as many people living with and affected by dementia as possible.

We were pleased to see our project covered by various media outlets including the ithe FT, and PoliticsHome, alongside another innovation called Jelly Drops who are also supported by Alzheimer’s Society. We wanted to let people know what we’ve been up to!

A quick recap for those not aware of the programme or our work:

As part of its new Accelerator Programme, Alzheimer’s Society is funding innovations and inventions that could help improve the lives of people affected by dementia.

We are 'How Do I?', we are fine-tuning a new mobile phone-app for people with dementia and their carers. This app links videos to objects in your home, through your mobile phone. These videos can help with learning how to complete a task or remembering an activity. We are working hard to help people live more independently at home for longer and we are passionate about empowering people through technology.

We gave the public a first sneak peak of our app at the Alzheimer’s Society conference at The Oval in May, where the announcement for the accelerator programme launch was made. We met with many people affected by dementia, health care professionals, other entrepreneurs and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock. 

How Do I? Presenting to Secretary of State Matt Hancock

Following on from the launch event, our main aim over the last 3 months has been to meet with as many people living with and affected by dementia as possible, and also dementia professionals, to gain valuable feedback on our idea and undertake user research.

We have always recognised the importance of user research: when designing a new product, it's crucial to involve users at every stage of design and development.

We’ve travelled to Nottingham, Essex, Peterborough and across London to meet with people living with and affected by dementia, running feedback sessions. We are so grateful to those who have taken the time to meet and work with us.

We worked alongside people to take them through the apps and try them out, asking questions and receiving feedback on icons and language, the colour scheme, and even the name of the product and the language we use to describe it.  Throughout the process, we would take on board our observations and the feedback we receive, and then iterate our designs.

Testing the product with people affected by dementia

Through these sessions, we’ve had the opportunity to listen to peoples' insights and their suggestions on how we can make our product work for them. We have gained insight into the unique wants and needs of people living with the condition and we will continue to develop and iterate the apps based on their feedback and user experience. Working closely and collaboratively with people affected by dementia will always be a cornerstone of our development.

Through the Accelerator Programme we’ve also been able to meet with professionals to talk about our communication plans, with research professionals to help to find more people with dementia and carers to test out our app. We also met with impact & evaluation experts to help us understand how best to measure the impact we're having in peoples' lives. We met with professionals to discuss user experience, user interface design and the importance of making technology accessible for older adults, which was invaluable knowledge in light of our focus over the past 3 months.

Putting all this feedback and advice together, we’ve worked on our designs and the user flow of our apps, over the next few months our tech team will be working on the development.

Over the next three months, we will also be:

●      doing further research into branding and packaging, alongside people living with and affected by dementia,

●      thinking about how we can ensure we are engaging the widest and most diverse use groups possible,

●      and creating a framework and feedback system for measuring our impact.

We are extremely excited to share with you what we’ve been working on and developing. Fancy becoming one of the first few people to exclusively try out the new version of our app? If you are interested then please email for more information.

To see our video on the last few months and stay updated come visit us here!


Simon Lord
Posted by Simon Lord (Admin)
Sep 17, 2019

The Alzheimer’s Society Innovation Hub, formerly known as Brainwave, is back in business after our trials of the platform earlier in the year.

With 400+ staff and volunteers already on here we know we are starting from a place of strength and over the next few weeks we’ll be showing you what has happened so far based on your challenges, ideas, comments and votes.

Right now you can catch up on our Hospitals project, the first sprint project the team has taken on based on the submissions of users of the Hub. We’re hugely excited about this project and have thrown ourselves into it in the last couple of months so find out where we’re up to and what is coming next!

In the next few days we will let you know how our Accelerator Progamme partners, Jelly Drops and How Do I? are getting on, so keep an eye out for those posts and follow their progress as they continue to work towards launching their products.

Some of you participated in our Spark Challenge (thank you!) – voting on which of the submissions to the Design Council’s Spark programme should receive Society funding to improve the quality of life for people affected by dementia. We’ll bring you an update from Hemal Dias, inventor of the winning submission, the Smart Spoon, an affordable stabilising spoon for people with a hand tremor, and let you know what how he’s getting on with his invention.

In the coming weeks we will continue to shower you with innovation goodness. We will have updates on our RAFA project, for which you helped us pick the ideas to focus on, and the latest on our GPs project, where we are looking to ensure GPs have the tools required to effectively signpost people at all stages of a dementia journey to effective services. We’ll tell you more about our LGBT+ project, Bring Dementia Out and how it is being taken forward by partner organisations over the next few months. Finally, we’ll focus on the products we have already taken to market, Lift the Lid: a workshop in a box around sex and intimacy in care homes, and the Fidget Widget Toolkit, a series of wooden tools that can help to relax or calm an individual with moderate to advanced dementia.

And most excitingly, on Tuesday 8th October, the Innovation Hub will launch externally, bringing onboard people affected by dementia, innovators, inventors and anyone else that has an interest in steering the work of our team and keeping up to date with the latest around innovation and dementia.

Once we go live externally we will once again be working out what sprint project to take on next. We will be asking you to submit your biggest challenges, and to vote on those of others until we have a winner, which we expect to announce at the end of October and start working on immediately in November.

It’s going to be a busy few weeks so stay tuned, invite others to sign up and from 8th October share the address: as widely as you can in your networks.

Our most recent sprint project is all about preventing people getting stuck in hospital longer than necessary. We're especially excited about tackling this challenge as it's the first that came from this Alzheimer's Society Innovation Hub – chosen after suggestions and votes from Alzheimer's Society employees and volunteers.

After some initial reading about the topic, we developed a clear statement of our challenge: 

How might we ensure people affected by dementia get the immediate support they need to leave hospital safely and without delay?

Tim from the Team in one of the hospitals we visited

We started the sprint in June 2019 and in the first two phases we learnt as much as we can about the challenge from desk research and interviews with experts, and we investigated it further by talking to people who would benefit from a solution and visiting the places where we want to make a difference to immerse ourselves in the topic.

The way people have given their time and shared their knowledge that will help us tackle this challenge has been hugely motivating and given us really useful insights.

W​e have read over 60 documents on the topic, visited 5 hospitals, spoken with 14 people with lived experience of dementia and over 60 health and social care professionals (from front line staff to clinical commissioners).

We've found that this is a complex area and there is a lot already going on to make improvements. At the start of September we had a session to bring together all of the information that we have heard and analysing it to find the key themes. We are now identifying the areas we think we should focus on in the next stage of the project.

Team synthesising what we've learnt so far

Our next steps will be to work together with professionals and people affected by dementia to look at these areas and find possible solutions to then build on and develop further. We are open to a range of solutions – it could be something for Alzheimer's Society to do, for us to work in partnership to deliver, or to enable other organisations to do, but it needs to be feasible and scalable. Whatever we develop, we will carry out an experiment to test it out in the real world allowing us to constantly improve and discover whether our solution has potential to be effective on a large scale.

We are excited to see where this project will take us. Meeting so many people who are working hard and are keen to continuously improve the experience of people affected by dementia has given us a real optimism and motivation to find a way we can help in this area too.

We're looking forward to keeping you up to date with our next developments!