Our Work

Read about our work on the AcTo Dementia project and catch up with our researchers' previous projects involving the use of touchscreen technology with people living with dementia. 

AcTo Dementia

A woman enjoying Bubble Explode, one of the games identified through the AcTo Dementia project

The AcTo Dementia project is focused on: 

  • Identifying key features within touchscreen apps that increase their accessibility for people with dementia

  • Developing a shareable framework that can be used to find existing ‘dementia-enabling’ touchscreen apps

  • Working with app developers to improve the accessibility of existing apps for people with dementia

  • Sharing app recommendations and support guides for people with dementia or people in a supportive role

Read our evidence-base by following the links below.

Research Team

Our researchers have extensive experience working with people with dementia and using technology to support and enhance their lives.

Dr Phil Joddrell

CATCH, The University of Sheffield

Professor Arlene Astell

The University of Reading

Dr Alexandra Hernandez

Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences

Joddrell, P., & Astell, A. J. (2019). Implementing accessibility settings in touchscreen apps for people living with dementia. Gerontology, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1159/000498885

Joddrell, P. (2017). Investigating the potential of touchscreen technology to create opportunities for independent activity with people living with dementia. The University of Sheffield.

Joddrell, P., & Astell, A. J. (2016). Studies involving people with dementia and touchscreen technology: A literature review. JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies3(2), e10. https://doi.org/10.2196/rehab.5788

Joddrell, P. & Astell, A. J. (2016) Dementia: There are so many apps for that... Journal of Dementia Care, 25(1):32–34.

Joddrell, P., Hernandez, A., & Astell, A. J. (2016). Identifying Existing, Accessible Touchscreen Games for People Living with Dementia. In K. Miesenberger, C. Buhler, & P. Penaz (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science (pp. 509–514). Berlin: Springer International Publishing.


Hogeschool Rotterdam

The InTouch project was an international, multi-disciplinary research project investigating the potential of independent touchscreen gaming for people living with dementia. Researchers from the universities of Rotterdam, Sheffield and Toronto collaborated between 2011-2014 on three distinct areas:

  • Proud to Play iPad case: A specialised case for the Apple iPad developed as a PhD project by an Industrial Design student, and tested in practice. The case increases the usability of the iPad for people living with dementia by providing stability, security and accessibility.

  • Development of original games: Based on information obtained from the observed use of multimedia technology in health care institutions and conversations with people living with dementia, three prototypes of specialised 'Happy Games' were developed.

  • Evaluation of existing games: Phase one involved the evaluation of ten existing apps on the Apple iPad in three different contexts: daily care, small-scale living and nursing care. Phase two focused on two existing iPad games as a comparison between familiar and novel activities.


CIRCA is an easy-to-use computer programme that helps support conversation between people with dementia, and their caregivers and relatives. The system contains an extensive collection of archive photographs, video clips and popular music which is easily accessed by simply touching the screen.

The LIM (Living in the Moment) games were developed to allow people with dementia to again enjoy entertaining and stimulating activities. All the LIM Games were created with the idea that they would not need working memory (short-term memory) to operate and enjoy them.

To find out more, visit the CIRCA Connect website by following the link below.

Penalty Shootout, one of the 'living in the moment' games

Exploring the potential of touchscreen computer technology in promoting enjoyable activities with people living with dementia

This PhD project investigated the use of touchscreen computers to promote enjoyment in both group and individual activity sessions. The findings were that touchscreen computers can facilitate enjoyable activity with people in the moderate to later stages of the condition in a group context. However, enjoyment was ‘in the moment’ and did not extend between sessions.

Participants enjoying touchscreen activities on an apple ipad