Tapping into the possibilities

Caring for Ageing Rural Australians
Sheffield, Tas - $4,200

You know what they say about an apple a day? A music therapist working with residents at an aged care facility in Sheffield, Tas, has brought the idea into very modern times, using Apple iPads to improve her clients' health.

Tandara Lodge is a Residential Aged Care facility in Sheffield, north-west Tasmania. Forty-one residents are cared for at Tandara, and a high percentage of them have some form of dementia.

Music can be a powerful tool for health and wellbeing. The organisation received a grant from FRRR's Caring for Ageing Rural Australians (CARA) program to purchase iPads, iPod Shuffles, noise cancelling headphones and an Apple TV to be used in sessions with music therapist, Alex Morse.

The iPads have been found to improve aged care residents' memory, fine motor skills, attention and engagement in activities.

Furthermore they can be taken to residents' beds and, thanks to the headphones, don't invade other residents' space.

The program was to be trialled for 10 weeks before possibly being extended into the adult activity centre. The iPads may also be used to engage in cognitive games and programs to help keep the mind healthy and active. This project helps put new technology within easy reach of older people.

Many free or low cost iPad apps could be very suitable in this setting, and while 'Angry Birds' might not take over from the Sunday crossword any time soon, as you can see from the picture, Tandara’s residents are happy to plug in and give it a go!

Ms Morse has gained attention for the program, and has given presentations on her methods and findings at the Alzheimer’s Australia 15th National Conference in Hobart in May 2012 and the Australian Aged Care Standards Accreditation Agency Conference in Brisbane in November 2013.

Tandara Lodge is owned and run by the community, and provides respite and palliative care as well as independent living units throughout the region. They also deliver Meals-on-Wheels and run an adult activity centre.