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Evidenced based approaches



The CIRCA communication support system and the LIM Games grew out of multidisciplinary research at Dundee and St Andrews Universities. The team of psychologists, designers and software engineers has been working together for over 15 years to develop and encourage innovative ways to help people living with dementia by making use of the latest technology and user-centred design.

All of our development research has involved people with dementia and their carers as partners in the entire design process. Collaborators have included care home organisations, Alzheimer Scotland, and Dundee Social Work Department.

The ongoing research work of the team, both individually and jointly includes creative music making for people with dementia, multimedia personality profiles of people with dementia to assist staff, improved nutritional assessment for older people, prompting methods for people with dementia, and non-verbal communication with people who are at the advanced stages of dementia.

Awards received by the team for this work include a Royal Society of Edinburgh Research and Enterprise Fellowship, Visiting Researcher at Kyoto Institute of Technology, Finalist in British Computer Society Social Benefit Award, and invited lectures in Toronto, Copenhagen, Vienna, Beijing, Tokyo, Kyoto, Taiwan and Australia.


Astell, A., Ellis, M. Bernardi, L., Alm, N., Dye, R.,Gowans, G., Campbell J. (2010) Using a touch screen computer to support relationships between people with dementia and caregivers. Interacting with Computers. Volume 22, Issue 4, July 2010, pp 267-275. [download a copy of the paper]

Astell, A., Alm, N., Gowans, G., Ellis, M., Dye, R., Vaughan, P. (2009) Involving older people with dementia and their carers in designing computer based support systems – some methodological considerations. Universal Access in the Information Society , Vol 8, pp 49-58.
[download a copy of the paper]

Alm, N., Dye, R., Gowans, G., Campbell, J., Astell, A., Ellis, M. (2007) A communication support system for older people with dementia. IEEE Computer. Vol 40 No 5. pp 35-41. [download a copy of the paper]

Gowans, G., Dye, R., Alm. N., Vaughan, P., Astell, A., Ellis, M. (2007) Designing the interface between dementia patients, caregivers and computer-based intervention. The Design Journal. Vol 10 Issue 1. pp 12-23. [download a copy of the paper]

Alm, N., Ellis, M., Astell, A., Dye, R., Gowans, G., Campbell, J. (2004) A cognitive prosthesis and communication support for people with dementia. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation . Vol 14 (1/2), pp 117-134. [download a copy of the paper]


Dundee University link St Andrews University link Alz Society link Alz Scot link BBC page link links