Portrait system wins RCUK prize


Gemma Webster has been awarded £10,000 to further her research on the Portrait system for carers of dementia sufferers. The prize was awarded at the Digital Economy All Hands conference as part of Research Council’s UK “Telling Tales of Engagement” competition Gemma developed the system, with supervision from Vicki Hanson as part of her PhD studies at the University of Dundee. The Portrait system was designed from the perspective of care staff workers. It provides an easy to use and quick means of getting information about the lives of residents before they entered the care home. In short, it allows care staff to know who the people are. The main objective of the Portrait project has been to research and develop software that could act as a communication bridge between carers and people with dementia through the use of simple but effective ‘Portraits’. To date, much research and several commercial offerings have aimed at memory books and reminiscence therapy for people with dementia. Like our Portrait software, many of these use multimedia software. While these memory tools might be shared with care staff, none were specifically designed to meet the needs of care staff. Portrait is unique in terms of specifically targeting the work schedules and usability needs of care staff. The Portrait system consists of multimedia portraits of each resident presented on an easily and quickly accessible touch-screen interface. Each portrait contains information about the person’s key life events, family, important things to know, preferences, and hobbies and interests. It is designed so that care staff can use the system alone in a setting such as a work room and find interesting information about a person in approximately three minutes. It is not intended to be used as an electronic storybook or to be used with the individual in the portrait. However, it may assist care staff in stimulating conversation and discussions with the person about the events outlined in his/her portrait. The prize funds will allow for the final development and transfer of the Portrait software.

Contact Us

Researchers: Gemma Webster g.webster@lancaster.ac.uk

and Vicki Hanson vlh@computing.dundee.ac.uk

Further details about the competition can be found here and prize winners’ ideas are available here :http://de2011.computing.dundee.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Telling-Tales.pdf