Developing transport technology with people living with dementia

Researchers from The University of Queensland are recruiting people living with dementia, along with their carers, to help with a study exploring emerging transport technologies.

Technology is changing the way people use transport, with app-based ride-sharing the norm and driverless buses on the horizon.

However, researchers are concerned a move away from private cars and public transport could leave people living with dementia isolated and vulnerable.

Occupational therapy and technology researcher Dr Jacki Liddle said there may be ways these rapidly changing technologies could help people living with dementia improve their quality of life and levels of independence.

“A personalised and responsive transport system could have really positive impacts on people living with dementia,” Dr Liddle said.

“It could allow people to continue to engage with their communities in meaningful ways, but the needs of people living with dementia should be considered at the planning stages of the new technologies for the benefits to be realised, not once they’ve already been developed.”

With support from the Dementia Australia Research Foundation and the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre, a cross-disciplinary team including lived-experience experts (people living with dementia and care partners), health, psychology, ethics and technology researchers will work on the study for the next two years.

The team includes Dr Liddle, Dr Peter Worthy , Professor Nancy Pachana , Dr Cynthia Forlini from Deakin University, Dennis Frost, Eileen Taylor and Dubhglas Taylor.

It will gather information about current and future transport technologies, identify possible issues from the perspective of people living with dementia and their carers, as well as other stakeholders in transportation and technology.

It will also develop key considerations for future transport technology development and research.

Dennis Frost, a project investigator who is living with dementia, said it was critical to include lived experience experts in this stage of the research.

“Like so many things that have been done for us in the past, the devil will be in the detail,” Mr Frost said.

“Without proper input by people living with dementia, it is possible that, despite the best of intentions, emerging technologies could further hinder our ability to remain active in the community, rather than ‘enable’ us to remain active.”

People living with dementia, care partners and others with expertise in transportation and technology who are interested in contributing to contactless research activities in the initial stages of the study should contact Dr Liddle on j.liddle@uq.edu.au to register their interest and availability.


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