Academics from various Faculties at the University of Malta and researchers from other entities have come together to work on Pervasive Electronic Monitoring (PEM), a project which seeks to increase the quality of life of People with Dementia (PwD).
The study was financed by Information Systems Ltd (ISL), a locally-based software company, who collaborated with the Research, Innovation & Development Trust (RIDT).
PEM addresses those affected by dementia by assisting them in their daily life activities as well as enabling their social engagement with other persons that include care-givers and family members. In 2019, Malta registered 7,000 patients suffering from dementia with the figure expected to double by 2050.
A multidisciplinary team led by Dr Conrad Attard, Deputy Dean from the Faculty of ICT, met the University of Malta Rector, Prof. Alfred J Vella, to present him with the study. The team also included other members from the Faculty of ICT, the Faculty of Health Sciences, ISL, RIDT, Saint Vincent de Paul Residence (SVDP) and the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA).
The Rector stated that this project is another example of how applicable research is achieved when different organisations work together including industry, university and government entities.
More than 47 professionals, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, medical doctors, psychologists, carers, nurses and nursing aids participated in focus groups and studies to design the project that is currently being conducted.
The second stage of the study involved the recruitment of over 50 volunteers from these entities and faculties who donated their time to create a dataset that gave researchers the ability to provide solutions to be used by carers. PEM’s research labs have been designed to create similar environments such those found in elderly homes that proved support to PwD.
The volunteers have collectively donated over 250 hours of their time to create a dataset that simulates old age and activities PwD do particularly when wandering or other related dangers such as falling.
This research allows professionals to learn more about challenges that elderly come across in their daily life by living in person some of the limitations and challenges that they come across. It also serves as an educational experience needed for PwD professionals.