A paper by CATCH member Dr Sarah Smith has appeared in Technologies, an international open access journal, focusing on emerging scientific and technological trends.

An example of a typical photograph included in Computer Interactive Reminiscence and Conversation Aid (CIRCA)


Written in conjunction with Professor Arlene J. Astell, the paper Technology-Supported Group Activity to Promote Communication in Dementia: A Protocol for a Within-Participants Study, looks at the role of the Computer Interactive Reminiscence and Conversation Aid (CIRCA), an interactive conversation support for people living with dementia. CIRCA facilitates one-to-one conversations and caregiving relationships in formal care environments.

Originally developed as a standalone device, a new web-based version of CIRCA has been created to increase availability. The potential of CIRCA to support group activities and conversation between people living with dementia and a facilitator has not previously been explored. The two objectives of this study are (i) to validate the new web-based version of CIRCA against the original standalone device, and (ii) to explore the efficacy of CIRCA in supporting group activity for people with dementia in a formal care setting.

The protocol has been designed to address the identified need for new provisions for people living with dementia utilising contemporary ICTs. CIRCA has been extensively evaluated within smaller projects since its development, but not as a group activity at scale. The intention is to further develop CIRCA and ultimately present it as a web-based application accessible through the IN-LIFE cloud-based platform, as part of a large European multi-site trial. As part of IN-LIFE, our partners in the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden are also piloting culturally and linguistically-appropriate versions of CIRCA. If successful, the trial results will contribute to existing research and practice regarding the “best” ways to engage people with dementia using contemporary ICTs. Furthermore, positive outcomes could also provide additional options for services to offer, once a diagnosis has been received.

The paper was produced as part of IN-LIFE, a multidisciplinary European project to promote independence for people living with cognitive impairment using ICT’s.

The full paper can be accessed here.