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Novel tangible interfaces to be developed to record memories of the elderly in Care Homes

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26 November 2013

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'Tangible Memories: Community in Care’ aims to help improve the quality of life for residents in care homes by building a sense of community and shared experience through a cooperative exploration of their life stories.  Rather than put these stories in a book or on a website, the project seeks to find creative ways to digitally attach stories to objects that are personally meaningful to participants so that they can remind themselves of important memories and share them with others if they choose.  In addition to helping project participants create memory objects they can keep and share, the project will also work to develop resources for use in other care homes.

This interdisciplinary work is being conducted by a collaboration between Dr Cater from Department of Computer Science, Dr Helen Manchester from Graduate School of Education and Prof Tim Cole from Department of History and secured £497,000 to carry out the research.

Dr Manchester said: "We’re really excited to begin this interdisciplinary, collaboration project with our community partners (Alive! activities) and older people in care homes. The UK population is ageing with the fastest population increases in the numbers of those aged 85 and over. These changes have wide ranging implications for our communities, our family relationships, the institutions that are important to us, and concerns related to health and well-being and social trust and isolation."

Dr Cater said: "Technically this project poses several challenges, not only in how we identify all the unique objects that users might want to record their memories about, but also how we actually create the user interface to empower the elderly to augment the objects with their memories themselves."

The care home market is growing exponentially creating new communities of circumstance of older people coming together from diverse backgrounds and with unique experiences. Thus pressing questions arise about how we might create 'community' in these settings and what role oral/life history collection and sharing might play in this process which this project will investigate.

This is one of two projects that the University of Bristol secured funding for under the AHRC's £4 million Capital Funding Call for Digital Transformations in Community research Co-Production in the Arts and Humanities. The call explored the interface and intersections between the Connected Communities Programme and the Digital Transformations in the Arts and Humanities Theme.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. For further information on the AHRC, please go to: