Project outcome for the Faroe Islands

Contact persons via iPads

Service Description

The service consists of contact persons who communicate with persons with dementia and their family via iPads and iPhones (employing Skype or Facetime). Contact persons for persons with dementia is a new service in the Faroe Islands. Each family are assigned a dementia coordinator and an occupational therapist as contact persons.

Dementia is a progressive disease and the challenges of the disease changes constantly. This service gives persons with dementia and their family easy access to counselling and guidance without the physical presence of the specialists. The iPad can be used for normal supervision, but also for the clarification of specific issues concerning the user’s health. Both users and contact person may initiate iPad visits. These visits may take place at times when physical visits would have been difficult to organise in the schedule of the contact persons. IPad visits may replace both physical visits and telephone visits. The iPads and iPhones may also be used by persons with dementia to communicate with family and friends and to other activities like listening to music, reading and games.

Description of tests

The RemoDem test areas are areas 3 (Eystoroy) and 4 (the Northern Islands). About 3,200 persons over 60 years live in these areas.

Test participants were recruited by informing all citizens over 60 years in the test areas about the project by distributing newsletters. About 40 persons contacted the project team. The respondents were mostly relatives of persons with dementia or persons experiencing memory loss. Only 12 were diagnosed with dementia. A multidisciplinary team of health professionals made home visits. 15 persons were included in the project and gave informed consent to participating; three of these were not diagnosed with dementia but showed signs of the disease. The participants have filled in questionnaires for the evaluation process.

The tests started in March/April 2013. Seven users and seven participants of the multidisciplinary health staff team (two occupational therapists and five nurses and assistants) received iPads and participated in the tests.

No schedule for the use of iPads was planned for the testing period; the iPads were to be used according to the individual user’s needs. At the end of the test, three of the participants still use their iPad; two use it for communication with the contact persons, but one also to keep in touch with family living abroad. The iPads have also been used for activities like reading, listening to music and games. None of the relatives have used the iPad for communication with the contact persons. The other test participants stopped using the iPad during the testing period as their dementia had progressed. 

During the project period, health care staff also used the iPads for sending emails and documenting home visits and group meetings.

Costs and benefits

The unit cost of an iPads is 2,695 DKK (362€). In addition, there are costs of training and technical support. During the project, 14 iPads have been distributed to the seven test participants as well as the seven participating health care staff.

During the test period, the project has covered mobile network for the users. The costs of “normal” use of mobile phone services are about 300 DKK (40€) per month. 1GB data costs an additional 150 DKK (20€) . However, most users have employed their personal broadband connections for using the iPad . The communication costs will not be covered by the public health service after the project period.

During the project period, the contact persons are paid by the project. In the longer term, the Allmannaverkið will take over responsibility for the contact persons. The implementation of contact persons for persons with dementia will probably not increase the health staff costs in the Allmannaverkið, but the service implies a reorganization of the service within the existing resources/salary budget. 

The test period demonstrates that the service may reduce the number of physical visits to persons with dementia, saving travel costs and travel time for home care staff. The participants in the RemoDem test lives 5-20 kilometres from home service headquarters, which indicates avoided car travels up to 40 kilometres per visit if the iPad substitutes a physical visit. In the test areas, the longest distance to a client is 38 kilometres. However, the number of saved travels has not been documented during the testing period.

It is also assumed that the service may contribute to enhancing the feeling of safety for persons with dementia and their family, possibly resulting in delayed admittance in nursing homes. However, this has not been possible to document during the short testing period. For the same reason, there may be a reduced demand for other home care services when ICT-services for easier contact and communication with dementia contact persons and home care staff are offered.

Other services

This chapter describes other services which have been developed during the project period, but data for an economic evaluation and business case description is not available.

  • Training and education for health staff. Evening courses are designed to improve the competence of health staff working with persons with dementia. Subjects discussed are pathology, communication, theories of dementia care, etc. The duration of the course is 16 hours (eight evenings).
  • Dementia groups provide guidance and education for family of persons with dementia. Family of persons of dementia often suffer from stress and need medication. These groups aim to prevent stress and reduce medicating through education and psychosocial support. The groups also provide opportunities for exchange of experience between participants. The course content are tailored to the participants needs, but will typically include pathology, how to communicate with people with dementia, legal issues etc.  The support of family of persons with dementia is new service in the Faroe Islands.
  • Day Care Centre in area 3 (Eystoroy )
  • Technical aids (memo planners, thing finders, GPSs, calendars, etc.) are tested for improved security for persons with dementia and their family.

Published: 17/02/2013

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This is an excerpt from the complete Business plan and deployment report.