Launched in 2011, Living Well with Dementia was a Design Challenge run in partnership with the Department of Health to improve the lives of those affected by dementia. One of the five innovative solutions created through the challenge, Grouple is a secure, private online social network helping people share the responsibilities of caring for someone with dementia.

The problem

When someone is diagnosed with dementia, a single relative generally takes on the lion’s share of care. This is life changing – dependency can increase quickly. Primary carers are often elderly with their own health concerns or, if younger, have to juggle work and care. Caring is stressful and isolating, and both carers and people being cared for can benefit from extra help.

The solution

At the centre of each Grouple hub is a timeline. Members of a care network can easily post their schedules, ideas and experiences of caring, dividing responsibilities and coordinating efforts to provide consistent and regular care without one single person being overburdened. Care decisions can easily be discussed and informed by everyone’s observations.

Printed reports can also be created based on timeline content, to assist medical professionals and help update family members who are offline.

The results

By facilitating group interactions, Grouple spreads the workload, increases dialogue and improves the quality of care, creating a better experience both for carers and people with dementia.

In addition to its more practical benefits, Grouple provides reassurance and inspiration. Family members on the periphery such as grandchildren can see what is going on and feel involved.

There are other websites for carers, but none provide the sophisticated functionality the Grouple team has developed for their needs, particularly with regard to sharing duties and information.

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