Ulster University went out to tender looking for a software development agency that could take an early MVP and turn it into the final product. The university had carried out research studies under the Dementia Care Research Programme to better understand the challenges posed to health and social care staff when caring for a person living with dementia. It was found that reminisce and the act of reminiscing can vastly improve the health and wellbeing of families and communities living with dementia. With this in mind, Ulster University tasked Scaffold Digital to design and develop a mobile app for both iOS and Android that would assist people living with dementia and their carers in reminiscing. To ensure the new app fully meet the needs of both the research study and their end users we worked alongside organisations like Dementia NI to ensure we understood how people living with dementia engaged with technology and how they used it in their daily life to help them build and maintain connections. Whilst taking into consideration the data we needed to collect for Ulster University to understand exactly how the app is being used in the real world.


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Ulster University wanted to develop an app that would assist people living with dementia, their carers and families to create a digital memory book that allowed them to take and store photos, videos and sounds. The app was solely designed to become a safe place for users to store their memories and have a reference point to spark conversations and make connections with people about their past. A vital part of this project was that the app needed to be developed completely with the user in mind, the core service user of this app was going to be a person living with dementia. Therefore, the success of this project relied on Scaffold being able to work alongside organisations such as Dementia NI and the Health and Social Care Board to fully understand how people living with dementia use mobile apps and how they use mobile apps to better their quality of life. During this time we were able to work closely with people living with dementia to design an app that focused on 3 core features: Uploading of media such as photos, videos and sounds, adding notes to the media uploaded to help jog the users memory and also add voice notes alongside their media were appropriate.

During the design prototype stage Ulster University also wanted us to carry out an eye tracking study to ensure the app we were designing was as best as it could be for people living with dementia. This process allowed us to track the eye movements of the end user which in turn allowed us to quickly know whether the user journeys we had created were easy to use or not. Our design team were then able to study the footage taken and make changes to the design to better accommodate how the app might be used in the real world. Alongside the core functionality of the app we also had to develop local storage facilities to ensure it was as easily as possible for users to store a copy of the app and its content to their device through iCloud or Google Drive. It was very quickly evident to us how important memory book style apps were to people living with dementia and their journey, so we wanted to ensure users could also restore a recent copy of the app should they get a new device. The new InspireD app also had to be heavily integrated with Google Firebase. Allowing Ulster University to gather information every time someone carries out an action in the app and manipulate the data for research purposes. Lastly, the new InspireD app was also going to be reviewed by Orcha and had to achieve a ‘green’ score to be featured in the HSC App 4 Dementia store.


We have developed an app for iOS and Android that is compatible with smartphone and tablet. People living with dementia and their carers can register for account, upload media and add notes/voice recordings to their media. Through their mobile device people living with dementia and their carers have access to a mobile app that will give them the opportunity to create a digital memory allowing them to discuss memories of their past that ultimately allows them to remain connected to the people around them and have meaningful conversations giving them a better quality of life overall. Ulster University also have access to all of the data collected through people using the app which is stored in Google Firebase. Using BigQuery Ulster University have the ability to fully manipulate all of the data, which is stored every time a user interacts with the app. This very valuable data will be used to make informed decisions about how practitioners help and support people living with dementia.

The InspireD app is one of the first mobile apps approved for use in the HSC App 4 Dementia store achieving Orcha Level 2 approval.

This truly collaborative project brought together Ulster’s research expertise in Nursing, Computing and Design with the lived experience of Dementia NI members and local app developer Scaffold Digital to create an app which has the power to enhance the lives of those living with dementia.

- Professor Assumpta Ryan, Professor of Ageing and Health at Ulster University