A conversation in their local pub led good friends Bruce Elliott and Peter Quayle to design a memory game app that is now attracting worldwide interest.
Bruce says: “It was a few years ago in the Crosby and we were sitting at a table, talking about our moms. Peter’s mom is 90 years old and has vascular dementia and lives here on the island. from Man, my mother is 86 years old and has returned to Canada.
“We were talking about what they have in common and of course it was a love of old family photos.
“I have in-game training and I was like, ‘I wonder if we can turn these photos into games? And Peter said, “We actually turn memories into games,” and that was the birth of Memory Lane Games. ‘
The app they created, which is available for free, uses old photos to trigger positive memories. It is designed to be played by dementia patients with a relative, friend or caregiver.
For example, there are games with questions about photos of 120 towns and villages in the UK. No matter where you grew up, there’s a good chance there are questions about photos of familiar sites, events, and landmarks you know.
I tested my knowledge on Isle of Man issues and it’s quite addicting to play. Then Bruce and I tried out a game about cats, which we both got all the answers to wrong, and just naturally found ourselves talking about it and laughing about it. This, as Bruce explains, is exactly the point of the game.
He says, “The real secret is that it also starts some wonderful conversations.
“You think, ‘Ah, I know that,’ and you feel so positive because you have the answer, and it makes you start talking, so it reduces the social isolation.
“So it’s not about scoring and it’s not really about games. What games do is give us a chance to start a conversation. For people with dementia sometimes there is a loop: “I want to go home, where is my husband, why am I here, I want to go home, where is my husband ?? ¦” Like this distraction tool can break that loop because you find a memory, ‘
“And one of the things we do that’s unique is that we aim to benefit both people with dementia and their caregivers.”
Each question has a choice of four answers. If you get it wrong the first time around, that wrong answer simply goes away, leaving you to choose from three answers, so you can keep choosing an answer until you get it right.
“It’s frustration free: at the end it says, ‘Well done, that’s the right answer’, so it keeps people going stress free,” says Bruce.
He credits Tom Coldwell, CTO and company shareholder, for making the app so user-friendly.
He says, “Tom designed the app and its simplicity, and made it one of the most incredibly efficient technology platforms out there.”
Tom explains that he had his grandmother in mind when he was working on it. He said: ‘My grandmother is on the other side of Yorkshire, she is now 92 and that really spoke to me because I wish I could send her family photos and pictures of her and my grandmother. -father going to dance together. I thought it was a really good thing to be a part of it.
They are now starting to add games based on photos from other parts of the world. In April, they launched their app in the Philippines.
Bruce says, “We partnered up with the Philippine Alzheimer’s Association and localized the content with a Filipino team that created games about Filipino street food and beaches and over 80 different Filipino towns and villages. .
“We had 10,000 downloads there and they are now prescribing our app – the exact same free app that can be found in the app stores here – for cognitive exercises for stroke and dementia patients by their neurologists. and general practitioners and that’s wonderful.
“We are launching soon in Germany and we are launching in India.
“What’s amazing is that it’s the same application, the same concept, everywhere. We’re just adding more games in this simple format, but what we’re starting to see is healthcare companies asking us, ‘Can this work in telemedicine? And now we take a look at how to deploy reminiscence activities via videoconference.
“We are starting to make very good progress with it and that means it can be delivered anywhere in the world at a very low price.
“We’ve had wonderful recognition recently: KPMG named us their top tech innovator in the North West UK 2021 and they’re starting to work with us to help us create games for our app, so some of their members staff are creating games in some of the towns and cities in which they grew up.
For now, the app is still free, but Bruce and his team are planning to start generating revenue with a new personalized version.
Bruce says, “It is our passion to be able to provide free, localized reminiscence activities for any country in the world.
“But we are a business and we know that sustainable businesses can have the most impact. So next month we’re going to launch the personalization: families can upgrade to include their own family photos in their quiz games, with questions like: “Is mom holding herself next to Uncle Jim? ”,“ Whose dog was that? ”all those simple things that trigger positive and wonderful memories.
“We’ll be offering this on a monthly subscription at £ 2.99 per month. So while our thousands of games are still available for free, you can customize them if you want.”
In order to give themselves the initial grace period while they were developing the games, they raised almost £ 1million from investors and they are receiving a grant from the DfE.
Bruce says, “Our investors are primarily family offices who love our purpose and our business, so they know that as we grow this business will be profitable.
“Right now we’re still developing all the infrastructure and platforms, but these can run almost for free once built.
“Our investors are patient – they see what we’re doing, and they’re excited that we are moving to personalization revenue and then to our business revenue with nursing homes and home care.”
The first step in this area is being made in partnership with Hospice Isle of Man.
Hospice CEO Anne Mills explains, “I am extremely pleased that here at Hospice, through our Scholl Academic Center, we are conducting a new pilot research study that will investigate the use of a gaming application. memory.
“The study hopes to determine whether using a new personalized gaming app, using content personalized for the person with dementia, compared to a standard app, could help improve the well-being of the person with dementia. dementia and its caregiver.
“We are looking for 30 volunteers aged 65 or over with a diagnosis of mild or moderate dementia. We will ask participants to use the Memory Lane Games app which offers simple memory activities suitable for people with dementia. We are happy to say that the study has been approved by the Isle of Man Research Ethics Board (IOMREC) and very kindly funded by Memory Lane Games.
“Our strategy at Hospice is to reach more people earlier who need our support, so our Scholl academic research team is taking this opportunity to examine whether digital health technology can have an impact. We are very proud that Memory Lane Games was developed right here on the island. Scholl’s academic research team is now in a position to recruit volunteers who can provide feedback on the app and bring us closer to hopefully improving the quality of life for people with dementia. ”
l If you are interested in participating, please contact Rachel Convery, Clinical Research Nurse, Scholl Academic Center at 647424 or [email protected]
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