The article presents the results of user research into the quality of life in dementia and outlines priorities for research and development for technologies to enhance the independence and well-being of people with dementia. The article describes prototype music players—1 of 4 technologies currently under development by INDEPENDENT, a government-funded research project in the United Kingdom. The user research indicates that while a person's functional and cognitive deficits are of considerable importance, quality of life encompasses wider contextual issues, such as the physical, social, and technological environment, offering many avenues for technology and design interventions that may facilitate participation in everyday activities.
Division of Primary Care, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK (Dr Sixsmith); Royal United Hospital, BIME, Wolfson Centre, University of Bath, Bath, UK (Dr Orpwood); and The School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK (Ms Torrington).
Corresponding author: Andrew Sixsmith, PhD, Division of Primary Care, University of Liverpool, Whelan Bldg, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L69 3GB, UK (e-mail: Sixsmith@liv.ac.uk).
The research reported here was part of the INDEPENDENT project funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC Grant Number GR/S29096/02). More information can be found on the project Web site: http://www.independent-eu.org. The authors are grateful to all who volunteered to take part in this study and to their colleagues in the project consortium: Garuth Chalfont, Department of Architecture, University of Sheffield; Prof. James Chadd, Bath Institute of Medical Engineering; Dr John Woolham, Northamptonshire County Council; Simon Evans, Dementia Voice; Dr Steve Cook, Huntleigh Healthcare; and Mike Vickers, Sheffcare. Judith Sixsmith is also acknowledged for her contribution to the development of the research methodology. Pam Clarke at Liverpool University provided useful comments on drafts of the article. Barry Foxon—Alzheimer's Society—and Dick Beeby, Wayne Smart, and Barbara Archer—Northamptonshire County Council—are also thanked for their assistance with contacting potential participants. An ethical protocol for carrying out the research was approved by the Metropolitan Multi-Centre Research Ethics Committee.