Software for people with dementia – Christine Bryden’s 2013 speech resonates.

By | February 13, 2014

Christine Bryden’s insight, empathy and fierce intellect has never been more potently combined as she contemplates life in a ‘dementia prison’ (otherwise known as a dementia unit, within a residential aged care facility) as a consequence of her terminal illness.

With all good intentions, dementia-care advocates can dilute their message by keeping things nice. Not so Ms Bryden, who has had the illness since 1995, when she was 46. Her speech is challenging – this is a disease ‘that will kill us over time’, a secure dementia unit is ‘long term palliative care. There is no need to ‘jolly’ up a person who sits sleepily in a chair in an apathetic state. This, she explains, ‘could be me, preparing for my death’, and, as a person who has come to the end of life, ‘my spiritual, emotional and physical needs must be supported’.

As a researcher looking at how best to create software for people with dementia, Bryden’s speech presented by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency deepens my understanding. Peacefulness, calm and quiet contemplation must be part of a user’s experience.

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2 thoughts on “Software for people with dementia – Christine Bryden’s 2013 speech resonates.

  1. Sonja

    At school this was shown. My mother recently passed away , and this speech hit home. I balled my eyes out. My grief is still raw, and this was exactly how it was at her residential care home. Bingo, sing a longs etc. In which she hated.

    1. mandy Post author

      Thank you for sharing your story Sonja. This can’t have been easy for you or your mother. Her experience highlights the need for an attitudinal shift. This is happening; you will no doubt be pleased to know that Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria now run an education program for care staff called, appropriately, ‘Beyond Bingo’.


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