2016 Better self-management and meaningful activities thanks to tablets? Development of a person-centered program to support people with mild dementia and their carers through use of hand-held touch screen devices

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Background: To offer good support to people with dementia and their carers in an aging and Internet society the deployment of hand-held touch screen devices, better known as tablets, and its applications (apps) can be viable and desirable. However, at the moment it is not clear which apps are usable for supporting people with dementia in daily life. Also, little is known about how people with dementia can be coached to learn to use a tablet and its apps.

Methods: A person-centered program, with tools and training, will be developed that aims to support people with mild dementia and their (in)formal carers in how to use the tablet for self-management and meaningful activities. The program will be developed in accordance with the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) framework for developing and evaluating complex interventions and the study will cover the following phases: a preclinical or theoretical (0) phase; a modeling phase (I) and the exploratory trial phase (II). The users (people with dementia and their carers) will be involved intensively during all these phases, by means of individual interviews, workshops, focus groups, and case studies.

Discussion: The iterative process inherent to this framework makes it possible to develop a user-oriented intervention, in this case a person-centered program, for the use of tablets in dementia care. Preparatory work will be done to perform a methodologically sound randomized controlled trial (RCT) in the near future, which aims to investigate the contribution of this person-centered program for tablet use to the quality of life of people with dementia and their carers.