Presentation by Prof. Dr. Luc de Witte. AAATE’17 Congress Sheffield, UK.

The AAATE2017 Congress (Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technologies in Europe) will take place from 11 to 15 September 2017 in Sheffield, UK. This year it is organized by the University of Sheffield. In short, it concerns the European conference on ‘technology in the field of care and welfare for people in care institutions or people living at home with a care need.’

The CRDL is also on the agenda for September 13 and will be presented by Prof. Dr. Luc de Witte.

Prof. Dr. Luc de Witte has been Professor of Health Services research in CATCH, (Center for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare) at the University of Sheffield since October 2016. Before his appointment in the UK, he was professor of Technology in Healthcare at Maastricht University, lecturer at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in Heerlen and director of EIZT, the Center of Expertise for Innovative Care and Technology in Heerlen.

He has extensive experience with innovations in healthcare in the field of long-term care: rehabilitation, elderly care, care for the disabled and care for people with a chronic illness. He currently focuses mainly on the application and implementation of innovative technologies for healthcare.

From your viewpoint, what is the added value of the CRDL for people with dementia?

“One of the drastic consequences of dementia is the loss of contact. Certainly in more advanced stages of dementia, it is often very difficult and uncomfortable for bystanders to still have meaningful contact. What to talk about? What to do together? Often the emphasis is on the things that no longer work. Our society is strongly verbally oriented: when talking becomes difficult or simply does not work, isolation is just around the corner.

The CRDL offers a possible opening for contact in a different dimension or on a different wavelength than the conversation. For people who were previously intimate with each other, the CRDL can then be a ‘medium’ to reconnect without words and experience a moment of connection together. This has no therapeutic effect (it will not change the disease process), but it offers the opportunity to experience something positive and pleasant together. And that is of great value, for the person with dementia, but possibly even more for the bystanders.

Connection is essential in everyone’s life and certainly that of people for whom communication no longer goes ‘automatically’. The CRDL will not work for everyone. It requires research to find out for whom and in what situation it works or not, and to find out how CRDL can best be used. ”

What kind of research assignment and objective can best determine this?

“In healthcare we are, as it were, ‘trapped’ in the frameworks of evidence-based practice and cost-effectiveness; we only want to do things that are ‘proven’ to be effective and cost effective. Just as the Council for Public Health and Society (RVS) argues in its recent report entitled: ‘Without context, no evidence. About the illusion of evidence-based practice in healthcare ‘, much in healthcare cannot be properly ‘captured’ in these frameworks. Much of what makes care good care cannot be described in an intervention protocol, but has to do with human contact, attention, involvement and connection. Such aspects cannot easily be measured in terms that have become common in scientific research in healthcare. New approaches are needed and possible for this.

Crdl is a perfect example for me of an instrument that should not be evaluated in terms of effectiveness (influence on the disease process or otherwise ‘medical’ effects), but much more in qualitative terms: for whom does it offer a positive experience and in which situations? Does it lead to connection with bystanders (partner, family or healthcare professionals)?

Cost-effectiveness is also not easy to express in a standard way here. What is it worth to be intimate with your demented partner for an hour, to touch each other and to experience a moment of ‘togetherness’? These are different types of questions and of a different order from what is standardly asked in a survey. That is why we also have to learn to set different research questions and goals with new tools. ”

Presentation in sheets:

Link to the video recording in the presentation: