Friday, 22 July 2016

TA SURE Scheme Summer Placement working with IN-LIFE

I applied to the TA SURE Scheme in November due to recommendation from an older
Emily Preston-Jones
student that it was extremely good experience. The scheme offered around 30 projects from related departments within the faculty of science, each of which had a short video explaining their aim. One of particular interest to me was the IN-LIFE (Independent Living Support Functions for the Elderly) project led by Sarah Smith from CATCH. IN-LIFE is a multidisciplinary European project working to prolong and support independent living for people with cognitive impairments using technology, with Sheffield being the only UK base. I was lucky enough to be matched with Sarah from my interview panel and began working with her in June. The project involves working with people with dementia to improve their wellbeing through a series of group sessions using a system called CIRCA (Computer Interactive Reminiscence and Conversation Aid). CIRCA is a fantastic system, operated using a touchscreen, that presents old photographs, videos and music within different themes (such as
 Childhood) in order to stimulate reminiscence and discussion. It has been shown that meaningful interactions and conversation are two of the most frequently reported unmet needs by people living with dementia, and in the absence of a cure, it is essential that research focuses on the social and psychological aspects of dementia.

I am currently half way through my placement and have accompanied Sarah to many of the group sessions within Sheffcare residential homes. Sheffcare is the leading provider of dementia care in Sheffield. Additionally I have shadowed Sarah taking the pre and post intervention questionnaires that will allow us to measure the effects of CIRCA on cognition, Quality of Life and Health for each participant.

The focus of my placement, however, is not the group sessions. I have conducted my own case study research using CIRCA in a one to one context with an elderly gentleman who is confined to his room due to the effects of Pneumonia. There were 4 sessions in total, each lasting around an hour, in which we explored the media that CIRCA had to offer and see what conversation it prompted. Each session was video recorded so that any emerging themes could be identified without the distraction of explicit note taking by the researcher. The sessions were incredibly successful and stimulated much conversation, laughter and enjoyment from both myself and the participant.

I am now in the process of analysing the data and highlighting any emergent themes within each, and all, of the sessions. I will hopefully be conducting a further case study with another gentleman and his wife, to explore dyadic participation using CIRCA, and whether the same or different themes emerge. Once the data has been analysed I aim to write an academic paper based on the research that I have conducted, with the hope of it being published in a relevant journal next year.

To learn more about this projects please visit the links below:

Written by Emily Preston-Jones, BSc Psychology Undergraduate

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