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The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and Taggle have developed a new mobile application to enhance dementia caregiving through interactive gameplay. This user-friendly app aims to equip caregivers with effective communication strategies, making it easier to navigate the challenges associated with dementia care. 

Understanding Dementia

Dementia is often misunderstood as a condition solely marked by memory loss. However, persons living with dementia can also exhibit significant behavioural changes as their condition progresses. These changes pose challenges for both persons with dementia and their caregivers. 

Caregivers may find it difficult to manage these behaviours without understanding their underlying causes. Meanwhile, these changes, which stem from communication difficulties and cognitive decline, make it increasingly challenging for persons living with dementia to express themselves and communicate their needs effectively. This communication barrier often leads to frustration and misunderstandings on both sides, as explained by Dr. Yao Fengyuan, Senior Consultant and Chief, Department of Geriatric Psychiatry at IMH. 

Introducing the Play2Care App

The app immerses caregivers in realistic scenarios tailored to Singapore’s context, such as navigating a familiar HDB flat environment and interacting over local cuisine. Through gamification and instructional videos, caregivers learn to apply the T.A.N.G.O approach effectively in scenarios commonly encountered in dementia caregiving. 

Interactive elements like mini-games (“Spot the Difference”, “Find the Hidden Purse”) not only engage caregivers but also stimulate cognitive skills in their loved ones. 

What is T.A.N.G.O?

IMH’s T.A.N.G.O communication strategy, developed by IMH clinicians, focuses on: 

  • Tender Approach: Providing comfort and reassurance through patience and supportive body language.
  • Acknowledge: Validating emotions and unmet needs.
  • No Challenging: Avoiding confrontations and instead offering gentle cues and prompts.
  • Get into Simple Conversation: Using familiar phrases and clear choices to facilitate communication.
  • Optimise Environment: Making environmental adjustments to enhance engagement and independence. 

User Feedback

Before its launch, the Play2Care app underwent a pilot test with a few caregivers. The results were positive: 

  • 100% of participants reported improvement in their Dementia Attitude Scale (DAS) scores. 
  • 80% felt more comfortable interacting with persons with dementia. 
  • 60% noted enhanced knowledge of the condition. 

Ms. Ong Xin Ling, Senior Occupational Therapist at IMH, highlights the app’s role in expanding accessibility of caregiver education: “Traditional methods of psychoeducation are no longer sufficient. Play2Care offers a dynamic platform for caregivers to practice and implement communication strategies in a safe, simulated environment.”

Enhancing Communication in Dementia Care

Designed with elderly-friendly features and informed by caregiver insights, the Play2Care app serves as a valuable resource for families navigating the complexities of dementia caregiving. 

“We are excited about the potential of Play2Care to transform dementia caregiving,” says Mr. Lee Seng Beo, CEO of Taggle. “By blending technology with compassionate care strategies, we aim to alleviate caregiver stress and enhance the quality of life for both caregivers and care receivers.” 

Embracing Innovation for Better Care

The Play2Care app leverages technology to improve access to dementia caregiving resources and in doing so empowers caregivers in their caregiving journey. By equipping caregivers with practical tools and insights, it not only addresses immediate challenges but also fosters a more compassionate and supportive caregiving environment for persons living with dementia. 

Join the movement towards better dementia care—download Play2Care today! 

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