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Memories evoked in dementia patients with the help of BBC RemArc

Memories evoked in dementia patients with the help of BBC RemArc

Since its launch in 2016, 73% of survey respondents from the 17,000 people who used BBC RemArc said that the service triggered long term memories in them. BBC RemArc helps with Reminiscence Therapy which assists people who have dementia, their carers and families, at home, in hospital wards or in care homes to interact and converse in a natural way by stimulating the patient’s long-term memory with material from the past.

It was created by the BBC’s Archive Development team with the help of experts at Dundee University, the University of St Andrews and with the support of Alzheimer’s Society.

BBC RemArc contains around 1,500 items from the BBC Archives, including around 250 video clips, 250 audio clips and over 1,000 images. The material ranges in date from the 1930s to the 2000s – much of it has not been available to the public for decades.

After further research, a number of changes are announced today to enhance user experience. These include adding a button to display information about the archive material users are viewing, increasing contrasts and font sizes for ease of use and making it easier to load a refreshed set of content for continued opportunity for reminiscence.

Matthew Postgate, BBC Chief Technology and Product Officer says : “The BBC has a great history of innovation that helps to make people’s lives better. It has been fascinating to hear accounts of how the service has helped improve quality of life for patients and their families, friends and carers. I am very proud of the work that BBC RemArc has done and we will continue to work to improve the service to best serve their needs.”

“The BBC has a great history of innovation that helps to make people’s lives better. It has been fascinating to hear accounts of how the service has helped improve quality of life for patients and their families, friends and carers.”

Kathryn Smith, Director of Operations at Alzheimer’s Society says : “Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK today and this is set to rise to one million by 2021. It’s more important than ever that people with dementia are supported to live well with their condition. We know that reminiscence can be a powerful way of connecting people affected by dementia with their memories and improving their mood.

“We have really enjoyed working closely with the BBC as their Reminiscence Archive tool has developed, tailored to the feedback of people affected by dementia. People who have used BBC’s RemArc talk really positively about their experience of it as a helpful reminiscence tool and enjoyable activity.”

Dr Norman Alm, an Honorary Research Fellow at Dundee University says : “I have again and again seen the difference between interacting with and without this kind of carefully-designed technological help – and the difference is unbelievable. RemArc is a boon to people with dementia and just as importantly to their carers, who can sit back, relax, and enjoy the conversation, with RemArc doing all the heavy-lifting of supporting the interaction and keeping it lively, engaging, and importantly, unpredictable.”

RemArc was launched on BBC Taster – the home of new ideas from the BBC and is available at www.bbc.co.uk/taster/projects/remarc BBC RemArc is available for free, globally, and works on all browsers. The software is available for free under an open source licence, so that people can build their own reminiscence archives or reversion RemArc with new languages.

About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He is a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards.

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