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Carers say tech is crucial for people with dementia but they don’t know where to start


WEBWIRE
Volunteer and learner at a BT Group / AbilityNet event
Volunteer and learner at a BT Group / AbilityNet event
  • New research shows 66% of people who care for a loved one with dementia believe technology can enhance their quality of life
  • But the findings from BT Group reveal 40% aren’t sure how to use tech in their caregiving routines and 52% say there isn’t enough training available
  • Charity AbilityNet is hosting a free webinar with the support of BT Group on Wednesday 10 July to show how tech can help people with dementia or cognitive disabilities
  • Carer Rachel Haworth says technology has become transformative for her mum’s care, from smartphone alerts to games on her tablet, helping her preserve her independence.


New research from BT Group has highlighted how technology can play a crucial role in aiding dementia patients - yet many carers don’t have the skills to benefit.

The findings from BT Group show two-thirds (66%) of people who care for someone with dementia believe technology can enhance the quality of life of those living with the condition.1

This includes using smartphones for reminders and alarms, managing medication, playing music to calm agitation and keeping connected to friends and family.

However, 40% of carers are unsure how to use technology in their caregiving routines, and 52% feel there isn’t enough training to help them use tech in caring for their loved ones.

It comes as charity AbilityNet prepares to host a free webinar with the support of BT Group on Wednesday 10 July to show how tech can help people with dementia or cognitive disabilities.

In the UK over 944,000 people are currently living with dementia - and one in three people will care for a person with dementia at some point in their lives.2

Full-time carer Rachel Haworth, 53, from Southampton, looks after her mother, Brenda, 89 who was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2020 following the death of Brenda’s husband Gerry.

Rachel worked as a professional carer before becoming her mum’s primary carer after her condition emerged 10 years ago. She says technology has been transformative for them - not only in supporting daily routines but also leading to improvements in her mum’s condition.

She said: “I’ve been a carer for older people with all sorts of special requirements and cognitive disabilities for a long time, so I know just how important technology has become in the last decade or so.

“As a family we’ve gone from a world where everything was pen and paper to one where tech plays a crucial role in our daily lives.

“We now use tech for basic things like setting up alerts for medication, booking appointments and staying in touch with the carers who support me. They’re simple but they make such a big difference to ensure we’re all on the same page and are essential to helping mum enjoy a good quality of life.

“My mum also has a tablet now, which she uses to play games, which are great for her mind – she uses messenger as well, which means she can call her grandkids whenever she likes.

“The positive change in her over the last year or so has been remarkable – a real turnaround we never thought we’d see.

“She keeps up with current affairs and remembers names in a way she couldn’t even a year ago.

“Embracing technology isn’t just about convenience; it’s about preserving independence and dignity. I’ve seen how tech has given mum a sense of empowerment and connection that I would never have thought possible.“

The BT Group study also looked into what’s stopping people from using technology in their caregiving routine.

It found 43% of carers believe they lack the skills required to use tech for caregiving and nearly a third (32%) feel overwhelmed by how to use it.

Victoria Johnson, Social Impact Director at BT Group, said: “Technology holds so much potential to enhance the lives of older people and those living with dementia and cognitive disabilities. Yet our research shows getting to grips with tech can be daunting for carers.

“The AbilityNet webinar is part of BT Group’s purpose, We Connect for Good, which aims to tackle the UK’s digital divide by empowering people with the knowledge, resources and confidence to live life in the digital world.”

Sarah Brain, Head of Free Services, AbilityNet, said: “Technology can be a real ally in dementia care, but if you don’t know what’s out there or how to use it then it’s daunting for carers and those living with dementia.

“At AbilityNet, we assist older and disabled individuals by providing advice, support, and training with tech. This upcoming webinar on 10 July is an excellent starting point to help carers explore available resources, and see how, together with BT Group, we can empower them with the knowledge and tools they need.”

Notes:

Research from an Opinium poll of 500 adults who provide care for someone with dementia, carried out on behalf of BT Group in June 2024.
NHS website

AbilityNet and BT Group are working in partnership to help improve the digital skills of older and digitally excluded people by providing free digital skills training to support older people (65+ years) in various areas across the UK. Find out more at: www.abilitynet.org.uk/BTDigitalSkills

About AbilityNet:

UK charity AbilityNet has more than 25 years’ experience of empowering disabled people through technology at home, at work and in education. In its mission to create a “digital world accessible to all,” it works with individuals, charities, and community groups to champion inclusive digital design, and its experienced consultants empower the private and public sectors to deliver accessible websites, services, and apps. The Charity’s Patron is Baroness Martha Lane-Fox. www.abilitynet.org.uk

AbilityNet offers free IT support at home and online to older people and disabled people via its nationwide network of 450+ AbilityNet Tech Volunteers. To access the free service, call the helpline on 0300 180 0028 during UK office hours, email to enquiries@abilitynet.org.uk or visit: www.abilitynet.org.uk/at-home

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About BT Group

BT Group is the UK’s leading provider of fixed and mobile telecommunications and related secure digital products, solutions and services. We also provide managed telecommunications, security and network & IT infrastructure services to customers across 180 countries.

BT Group consists of three customer-facing units: Consumer serves individuals and families in the UK; Business covers companies and public services in the UK and internationally; Openreach is an independently governed, wholly owned subsidiary wholesaling fixed access infrastructure services to its customers - over 700 communications providers across the UK.

British Telecommunications plc is a wholly owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

For more information, visit www.bt.com/about


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