Click Guide to #Dementia Update – organisations can subscribe to give staff online access

Last week I launched the new Click  Guide to Dementia (read the original post here). I have been touched and excited by the interest and support for the Guide.

You can buy the Guide here but I know it is a tough choice between the eBook at £4-99 which has clickable links and the Paperback at £8-99 (plus p&p) a valuable reference book. Or why not buy both!

A big thank you to everyone sharing and”liking” information about the Guide.

The Click Guide is self funded and has been produced by a very small group of professionals who believe passionately that technology can benefit all of our lives but only if information is accessible to enable people to make informed choices about how digital resources can enhance care and support.

An important reminder that the Terms and Conditions for using the Click Guide to Dementia eBook state that the Guide is for personal use and can only be downloaded on one device (laptop, iPad, Tablet or smartphone).

If you are an organisation who would like to support staff, service users and volunteers to benefit from online access to the Guide or a membership subscription service who wish to add our digital resources to your database please contact us to buy a licence which is available for a reasonable fee  dependent on the numbers who will be accessing the resources in the Guide*.

For more information about buying a licence or for a digital copy of the Terms and Conditions of Use please contact 

*A list of organisations who have subscribed to the Guide can be provided on request.




Introducing the new Click Guide to Dementia: sharing resources from the digital world

It is my birthday today and what better way to celebrate than by launching our new Click Guide to Dementia. Whether you work in the public, private or not-for-profit sectors technology is transforming the way that people connect and services are delivered. Digital technology and social networks provide some of the most powerful tools available today for building a sense of belonging, support and sharing among groups of people with similar interests and concerns.

Digital technology is driving a revolution in care and the growing use of mobile devices, apps and social networks is becoming significant in enabling people to live more independent lives, irrespective of their health and care needs. Care in the digital age provides opportunities to reach out and support people in more exciting and radical ways. “In the digital age how can we easily keep track of the many resources available? The Click Guides are filling an information gap” Paul Taylor Innovation Coach Bromford Lab

A diagnosis of dementia can be scary for the individual, their family and friends. It helps that there are an increasing number of online resources which can make a difference by providing information, advice, support and specialist products and services. From blogs and tweetchats to personal support networks and life changing products the Click Guide to Dementia provides a unique perspective on the influencers, disruptors and innovators in the sector.

I feel privileged that Dr Shibley Rahman a dementia researcher and author I respect enormously has described The Click Guide to Dementia  which brings together more than a hundred of the most useful resources with hyperlinks to websites, blogs, facebook pages and twitter feeds as “a brilliant initiative”

The Click Guide to Dementia is available to buy as an eBook for £4.99 and a Paperback for £8.99 (plus p&p)

The Click Guide to Dementia is the first in a series of directories being developed to help people access and  enjoy the opportunities and benefits offered by the internet. To reflect the rapid growth of digital technology solutions intended to enhance care and support we are planning to update this Guide in April 2017.

If your organisation would like to be included in the next edition of the Click Guide to Dementia please provide evidence of your impact. We will be highlighting those organisations who have shown how they are making a difference to people’s lives and the lessons learned and shared from both success and failure.

Social media provides real time feedback and you could show evidence of impact in many ways including: hits on your website, testimonials, number of report downloads, likes and comments on your Facebook page, engagement on Twitter and in discussion forums. Please email your details to  with a link to the website and 100 word summary explaining why it should be included by 31st March 2017.

To keep informed about future publications, updated versions of the guides and other resources, why not sign up for our e-newsletter? Click Guides to Ageing Well, Digital Technology for Adult Social Care, Mental Health and Community Connections will be published over the next six months.

Find out how your organisation can subscribe to give staff, service users and volunteers online access to the Guide through the Click Guide to Dementia Update






Who is this mysterious tribe named “the elderly”?

I continue to puzzle at why “the elderly” is used with such abandon especially on social media and notably amongst health professionals and people working in the  technology industry. Our ageing population represent a victory for better nutrition, better housing, and the welfare state. People in later life offer wisdom, experience, perspective and a wide range of skill sets and capacities.

Why are we not embracing and utilising the wealth of knowledge and experience of older people to develop, deliver and support digital services rather than making assumptions?

So I thought I would ask Twitter about the mysterious “the elderly” tribe!

As I frequently comment “age is a statistical category not an identity. Strangely people aged sixty plus are not one homogeneous group, we are as varied as individuals in any other sector of the population and our different life experiences inform our perspectives as consumers. Older people may have similar needs physically but these do not erase life experiences, preferences and orientations.

A gentle reminder that baby boomers (generally considered to have been born between 1946 and 1964) have expectations and aspirations shaped by:

1953 Francis Crick and James Watson discovering the structure of DNA.

1963 Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his historic “I Have a Dream” speech

1993 work on the Human Genome Project started

1969 Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to set foot on the moon

1971 Launch of the Open University

1973 Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon is released

1998 Google founded

1998 Launch of Apple iMac

2001  Launch of Wikipedia and the first Apple iPod..

2004 Facebook is founded

2006 Twitter was created

Do feel free to vote in the Twitter poll and I will update this post when the results are ready In the meantime the search for “the elderly” tribe continues!

And just in case you have missed this!






How can digital technology help a person living with multiple sclerosis?

Such a simple, obvious and wise statement – it would be so exciting if every individual offered a personal health or care budget was able to access a digital care navigator. Sadly the social sector (including health, care and charities) have not yet managed to bridge the gap between the rhetoric of digital transformation and the everyday experiences and reality for citizens..

I was recently asked for advice about how digital technology could help  a person with late onset multiple sclerosis deteriorating rapidly. She loved crafts, needlework painting etc but is losing use of her hands.  She has a laptop but using the mouse is getting tricky.

It emphasised for me how important it is for people to be aware of, and able to access, online resources to support independent living and #ageingbetter so I thought it would be helpful to share resources.

It is definitely worth contacting AbilityNet a small and impressive UK charity helping disabled adults and children use computers and the internet by adapting and adjusting their technology. They provide a range of factsheets and advice and information services.

@AbilityNet run the inspiring @Tech4GoodAwards which celebrate the people and technology making the world a better place. 2016 finalists will be announced on the 8th June!

AbilityNet have been shortlisted as Digital Charity of the Year 2016 by Digital Leaders 100. The winners will be chosen by a public vote and you can vote for them now on the Digital Leaders website and help spread the message about the amazing way that technology can transform the lives of disabled and older people.

[Declaration of interest: I have a real fondness for small charities with a big vision who know how to be creative and deliver results with limited funds!]

A helpful post on using a computer if you have tremors

UCanDoIT is a charity that teaches IT skills to people with disabilities on a one to one basis in their own homes. @ucdit

Another site with useful information about technology and disability

(and I am sure there are many more to be added!)

Tips and tricks for folks with Multiple Sclerosis (Microsoft 365)

From gaming system to medical breakthrough: How Microsoft and Novartis created Assess MS

Touchscreens such as iPads are tactile, versatile and very simple to use and the apps make it easy to play accessible games, which help memory, agility and interaction. iPads can be used for all manner of activities such as games, apps, accessing websites and playing music and video.

However before buying any apps it is always worth reading the reviews, checking compatibility requirements with laptop/tablet being used  and whether the app is really free or being offered as a subscription model!

Some fun interactive apps

Pigment (free to download but with a Premium Access paid subscription) allows you to colour as you would on paper with actual colored pencils. Choose from 350+ hand curated, professionally drawn illustrations, 8 different kinds of pencils, markers and brushes, and an unlimited number of colors to choose from. Completed artwork can be friends and family.

Painterly £1.49) allows you to create beautiful evocative pictures even if you do not have advanced drawing skills or formal art training Allows for painting with more than 60 virtual brushes, as well as importing photos and then painting them

List of googled needlework apps for iPad (not my specialist area does anyone have any recommendations?)


Imutt (free but charity will invite a donation) This game from the Dogs Trust allows users to look after an impossibly cute virtual rescue dog for five days. Perfect and no need to walk in bad weather!

FlowerGarden (free with further in-app purchases) allows you to pick virtual seeds, plant them, water them and watch them grow. This is especially significant for participants who used to enjoy growing plants and are missing their former gardens.

An honourable mention for the informative @AXSChat which runs the informative weekly #AXSchat discussing accessibility & inclusion in business on the web & beyond.

I have reached out to the Multiple Sclerosis charities for advice and will update this post  when I receive responses.

I met Paul Smyth Head of IT Accessibility at Barclays Bank recently and was very impressed by his thoughtful and measured approach to accessibility and inclusive technology. I recommend listening to his interview.

It is so obvious really that digital technology can make all the difference to the quality of life for people living with disabilities and why I believe it is so important to make #connectedcare a reality.

Obviously this post is only a snapshot of available resources (I am not a assitive technology specialist but I work with companies excited to use technology to improve their services).

And I am always very aware that what digital technology offers are endless possibilities to make person-focused care a reality. 

I welcome your thoughts about resources you have found helpful. please add to the comments section below or share with me via Twitter @shirleyayres


How social media can support #ConnectedCare

In these challenging times I believe we have a responsibility to show how the digital revolution which is impacting on all of our lives can bring people together to build and support more connected communities.

Care and support in the 21st century requires much more connected thinking across social services, health, housing, education, employment and the wider social sector. Technology and social media can facilitate this process. I am often puzzled when I see different sectors running events with similar themes on the same day and not making the connections which could avoid duplicating resources or reinventing wheels. It can so often seem that sectors are just talking to themselves rather than reaching out and creating new networks and collaborations.

Admittedly we have been slow creating a mindshift away from technology as a means to an end and thinking about how digital technology can help address the wicked challenges of our age. How does technology have a role in addressing social isolation, loneliness, supporting people living with dementia and their carers, developing the skills and talent of young people and creating communities we all want to live in? Is the missing link the absence of digital leadership in the social sector?

To promote new ways of thinking I have used and continue to use social media to highlight resources which I believe could benefit from a wider audience than the “usual suspects” In this spirit and because there are so many events taking place I am sharing my selection of  interesting and innovative events which you can follow on Twitter. The obvious (to me anyway) connection between all of these events is that we all live in communities which include children, young people, families, people living alone and carers. We all have something to share and we can learn from each other. 

Today MOMO are hosting  a national conference exploring digital social work challenges and good practice. @MindOfMyOwnApp have developed an app that gives children and young people the confidence & ability to express their needs. It is so important that looked after children have a voice and I am impressed by the impact of this app. Follow via


The inestimable @johnpopham is live streaming this event.

This week is #dyingmattersweek. Every year @DyingMatters host an Awareness Week, which gives us an unparalleled opportunity to place the importance of talking about dying, death and bereavement firmly on the national agenda. This year the theme is ‘The Big Conversation’ and you can share your thoughts via #BigConversation.

Neighbourhoods of the Future is being held on the 11th and 12th May.  This event will take a fresh look at age friendly homes and communities as a means of tackling the challenges of ageing better. Topics being explored include the emerging possibilities of smart homes and age friendly cities. With hundreds of organisations now involved in the #AgeingBetter industry it will be fascinating to see how many will be sharing their thoughts via #agileageingroadshow

The Festival of Behaviour Change starts today in Bangor 9th – 20th May 2016. Behaviour Change Science is a combination of psychology, social sciences, design thinking and practical application that could revolutionise the design and delivery of public services. It can help individuals to make better decisions by altering the way in which choices are presented to them. This is an important exploration because there are rightly ethical concerns about who determines what is the “right” behaviour.  I am particularly interested in the sessions on Behaviour Change and Service Delivery ModelsBehaviour Change in Health and the Future of Health Care and The use of Technology in the Pursuit of Behaviour Change. Follow the discussions via . I understand some of the sessions will be live streamed via Periscope.

Advance notice of Dementia Awareness Week taking place from the 15th – 21st May 2016. This is an important opportunity to increase understanding of dementia and find out what support is available for people living with dementia and their carers. There are a wide range of special events taking place across the country.

Follow #DAW2016 to contribute to the debates and share your thoughts about what works and what needs to change.

If there are other events which I think are interesting, informative and innovative I will add them to the list during the week!

On Being Social To help make your event more social I am sharing some top tips produced by @PaulBromford and I. (We are planning to update this in 2016!)








Practical Strategies for Learning from Failure is coming to Leeds! #LFFdigital

Following a successful workshop in Cardiff we are offering a second Practical Strategies for Learning from Failure in Leeds on Thursday 8th October 2015.

If you are interested in attending here’s the link to register your interest.

To find out more about what happened in Cardiff have a look at the Storify prepared by @GoodPracticeWAO

and the following posts:

Exploring the Benefits of Learning from Failure at #LFFdigital

@whatsthepont The James Reason Swiss Cheese Failure Model in 300 Seconds

@dosticen How can we build time for reflection into our digital lifestyles?

Failing to learn from failure and Learning from failure in complex environment – what does this mean for audit?

What attendees thought of the Cardiff workshop – feedback compiled by @commutiny

There are limited places available for this free workshop and early booking is advised. If you are allocated a place and unable to attend please let us know as soon as possible so that we can give your place to someone on the waiting list.

The #LFFdigital team look forward to meeting you in Leeds.

Shirley Ayres @shirleyayres Connected Care Network, Chris Bolton @whatsthepont Wales Audit Office, Roxanne Persaud @commutiny Doctoral Researcher, University of Southampton and Paul Taylor @PaulBromford Innovation Coach, Bromford Lab

Exploring the Benefits of Learning from Failure at #LFFdigital

I have always been inspired by JK Rowling’s powerful Harvard commencement speech in which she discussed the fringe benefits of failure. As JK  said,”It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all in which case, you fail by default.”

We live in an age that relentlessly promotes innovation. However across the public sector our willingness to talk about risk and learn from failure has not kept pace. Whilst there seems to be consensus about the need to share learning many organisations are working in a  competitive funding environment which does not encourage this to happen. How can we create a space which encourages organisations to share the learning about projects which have not achieved their anticipated and desired outcomes and impact?

Our Practical Strategies for Learning from Failure workshop on the 5th August in Cardiff offers the opportunity for strategic thinkers who recognise that we need to learn how to deal with disappointments, mistakes and failures of all kinds.  It responds to the #PdDigital15 challenge “how can we unleash people-led digital innovation in health and wellbeing?” by helping to de-stigmatise failure and ‘what doesn’t work’ so we can adapt and move on more quickly.

The event is being facilitated by a unique team bringing perspectives from practice, research and different sectors.

We will be working with you to consider the following questions.

  • What are the costs of failure and how can we do things differently?
  • Why do we continue to reward the “wrong” activities?
  • What are the guiding principles to prepare for a new landscape with citizens at the centre?

There is no charge for the event, thanks to the people at #PdDigital15 and the Wales Audit Office so we expect everyone to make commitments to preparatory thinking, collaborative working, and follow-up.  We are doing this because we believe it is important to keep up critical momentum on the conversation.

You can register here

Once registered on this workshop you will need to complete a short questionnaire. It will take about 10 minutes and give you a flavour of the kinds of conversations we will have and provide valuable insights to inform the workshop.

The main outcome from the workshop is to begin a cross sector conversation about how to share the learning from failure across health , housing , care and the wider social sector.

If you are not able to attend the workshop but  would like to join in the conversation  on Twitter and share resources you have found useful we are using the hashtag #LFFdigital

(We are not officially announcing it yet but if you cannot come to Cardiff in August  we will be running another #LFFdigital workshop in Leeds on the 8th October)

What health and wellbeing apps do you use and would you recommend? #PdDigital15

Last week I attended People Driven Digital Health and Care in Leeds. It was a fascinating and fun event. I was honoured to be invited to provide some thoughts at the launch about the challenges and opportunities in the digital space alongside Tim Kelsey and Anne Cooper.

An excellent question was posed by Mike Clark  at the start of the event and here are some responses and it raises interesting questions about what each of us considers to be a health and wellbeing app!

My recommendations: Twitter (rich source of real time information about the latest digital health and care innovations) , jawbone (motivational and competitive element makes it fun)  and  (very good for pelvic floor muscle exercises!).

I would also highly recommend Patient Opinion because of the richness of experiences being shared and the opportunities for health and care organisations to respond publicly as to how they are addressing concerns, complaints and praise.

Paul Taylor and the Bromford Lab have been experimenting with a cheap Cardboard Virtual Reality kit and I did get very excited about the one he brought (as did Chris Bolton and Paul Webster)!

A further question asked by Mike Clark – would anyone like to hazard a guess at what the number might be?

Further thoughts from Mike as we see how often Twitter is being cited as a wellbeing app.

Thanks to everyone who contributed their favourite health and wellbeing apps . I am very aware there are thousands of digital innovations available and I would love you to share your favourites either here or via Twitter @shirleyayres!

You can read more about the event through the following rather excellent posts

People driven digital health: solving problems people actually have 

Putting People First

Reflections on #PdDigital15 

Conversation & collaboration at #PdDigital15 

Digital Innovation and #AgeingBetter

Presentation with thanks to Paul Taylor

I was delighted to be invited by Zoe Pedden creator of the innovative MyChoicePad to share thoughts about Technology in Social Care: Innovation in Adversity at the Wayra UnLtd and Insane Logic Digital Mouthpiece. The event was live streamed and there was a lively discussion on the #innovatecare hashtag.

There are too few opportunities for robust debate about the need for a long term revolution which challenges the traditional institutional models of care. I believe we have to disrupt the current care market because it is just not fit for purpose.

The report today about patients living with dementia being restrained by security guards in hospitals does not give me confidence about the dignified and respectful care we provide for our most vulnerable members of society.

My Long Term Care Revolution paper for Innovate UK highlighted the reality that living longer does not feel like a celebration when care options in later life do not reflect our aspirations and experience of living in a digitally connected world.

In 2013 Nominet Trust published my Provocation Paper exploring the question “Can online innovations can enhance social care?” The simple answer is yes but digital technology on it’s own is not the solution. Technology cannot fix broken systems and digital cannot be just a bolt  on or optional extra  – digital transformation has to be at the heart of every organisation.

Technology and tools help us navigate an increasingly complex world but they will never replace human creativity, empathy and intuition.  We have to understand both the potential and the limitations of what digital technology can offer.

We certainly need better ways to collaborate, signpost, and share knowledge. Connected Care is important to make sense of a complex and fragmented landscape. Innovation in adversity  has to involve care, health, housing, entrepreneurs, the technology industry, innovation funders, the wider social sector, citizens and whole communities.

We seem to have a deficit of imagination about how to build and support the strengths and assets within communities. How can we use technology to support citizens to live more fulfilling lives connected with the people, ideas and activities which are so important to each of us?

In 2013 I asked the question Digital Technology and care – how do we promote more connected thinking?

There is so much potential for digital technology to enable people to make new connections, contribute to person-centred support, develop community networks and new models of care so an obvious question is what is stopping more widespread adoption?f

There is no shortage of innovations in digital technology and millions of pounds are being spent supporting further developments. It is less clear about the application, impact and usage of these innovations. One problem is the limited awareness in the sector and amongst the public about what is available and it’s value. I believe that a big deficit is the lack of a strategic approach to embedding digital technology in the range of options to support people to live more fulfilling lives.

My proposals:

  1. Convene a roundtable for all the funders of digital technology to explore collaboration, sharing practice and a common approach to evaluating and promoting the outcomes and impacts of their investment.
  2. Provide signposts which enable care recipients, their families and carers to find out what technology products and services are available, both through statutory services or to purchase independently.
  3. Create, promote and participate in events that showcase innovations in care which could be adopted by local authorities, the NHS and housing providers.
  4. Map all of the digital community hubs (however defined) which are available to ensure that people have access to local resources. This would also identify areas where there is currently no support available.
  5. Benchmark levels of awareness about technology innovations across the care sector and work with key players to promote and share the benefits of innovation.

Are we making progress? Despite millions of pound given in grants for innovation and digital inclusion, endless reports, numerous conferences and a recognition that digital technology is an integral part of our lives I sometimes feel I am living in a parallel universe to the Ageing Better industry …..

David Wilcox is an intrepid social reporter who has written extensively about Living Well in the Digital Age. He helpfully highlighted that there is no mention in the recent strategy of the Centre for Ageing Better about technology and digital innovation.

From the Big Lottery Fund £82 million investment in Ageing Better to the £50 million endowment creating the Centre for Better Ageing and the diverse Nesta programs it seems there is a proliferation of partnerships exploring how to embed innovation in care but the jury is out about their impact.  Maybe the recently launched Innovate UK £4 million Long Term Care Revolution national challenge will provide some  answers?

The “Ageing” sector is a complex and fragmented  multi million pound industry involving  hundreds of organisations and millions of potential beneficiaries.  How often have you asked if your your product or service could be improved and made assumptions about the problems people really need help solving?

I welcome your ideas about how we can shift from yet more research and reports to innovation with practical and useful outcomes which will improve the quality of life for older people now and in the future! My #AgeingBetter dream encompasses  personalised care driven by technology, smart homes with sensors, robot companions and driverless cars.

Looking 20 years ahead as baby boomers reach the age 80 plus we still have time to plan and get it right. But we have to move from rhetoric and reports to action now!