All About Us: New board game boosts confidence and wellbeing for people with dementia
24 February 2022
Game jointly developed by people with dementia, care experts, designers and university researchers
A new life-storytelling board game has been released to help boost the self-confidence and wellbeing of people with dementia as they adjust to their diagnosis.
The game uses questions as conversation starters to enable players to reminisce about their childhood, think about their hopes for the future and what is important to them in their lives.
It was jointly developed by a team of international researchers, professional care and design experts, along with people living with dementia.
Developing the game alongside people living with dementia helped ensure it is effective and is evaluated by published research.
Professor Kristina Niedderer, Professor of Design at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University and lead researcher on MinD, said: “It is extremely exciting to see All About Us go on sale. It was evaluated with people with dementia in day groups in three countries - the UK, Germany and Spain - as well as with people in their homes in The Netherlands, with promising results.
“People with dementia who played the game in day groups with other people with dementia and caregivers felt that it was enjoyable, that it enabled them to share experiences, learn from and get to know others. Participants enjoyed the social interaction and felt that it could help people get out of isolation and think together with others about the future. We hope that people enjoy the game and that it makes a meaningful difference to their lives.”
MinD developed and evaluated a prototype of the game during their research into how best to create new inspirational materials for people diagnosed with dementia that could instil greater positivity in managing their everyday lives and facing the future with confidence.
Receiving a dementia diagnosis is trying for most people, and participants told researchers that materials provided to them to help them understand the disease are often too generic or focus too much on the illness and not enough on preserving quality of life.
People with dementia who played the game in day groups with other people with dementia and caregivers felt that it was enjoyable, that it enabled them to share experiences, learn from and get to know others.
MinD used the innovative concept of mindful design to produce a range of materials that encourage self-empowerment, including the board game.
The game was developed and tested as part of the project, which was co-ordinated by the University of Wolverhampton, led by Professor Niedderer from Manchester Metropolitan University, and involved Alzheimer Europe, four healthcare services across Europe including the NHS, four design agencies as well as several universities.
All About Us is already being used by some of the MinD partners in their therapy groups and is now for sale on the Relish website and via online retailers.
Research, which evaluated the game with 50 people living with dementia and their carers across four countries who played All About Us, is published in the Journal of Aging Studies and evidences the benefits of the game.
Participants in the evaluation said that the game, which is based on a combination of life-storytelling and mindfulness, was enjoyable, helped them learn and accept the past and present situation, and that they felt that looking forward into the future together with others could be helpful.
The study demonstrates that design can be a useful means to support people with dementia in their emotional wellbeing, social engagement and sense of agency.
Ben Atkinson-Willes, founder and CEO of Relish, said: “Enabling wellbeing for people with dementia is what drives us. Pivotal to that in early to mid-stages of dementia is maintaining a sense of identity and purpose, and of course, relationships. The All About Us boardgame concept lifts these emotional levers in a wonderfully engaging way where people with dementia, their families and carers can all take part together. We’re proud to be able to make this game a reality and hope that it brings joy to many.”
All About Us is designed to encourage a supportive atmosphere in which all people can take part as equal players. The game hinges on one’s personal life path, from childhood through to older age.
Each player takes a turn by throwing the dice, moving the counter, and selecting, reading out and answering a question card about their life experiences. Divided into the decades of life, players answer questions that provide conversation starters about memories and the future, favourite activities, the people in their lives, personal skills, likes and values, dreams and wishes.
he All About Us boardgame concept lifts these emotional levers in a wonderfully engaging way where people with dementia, their families and carers can all take part together. We’re proud to be able to make this game a reality and hope that it brings joy to many.
Players can explore themselves and each other, talking about their experiences, motivations, achievements, relationships and identity, linking the past, the present and future.
The game has been designed with those affected by dementia in mind, featuring bright, contrasting colours, clear recognisable shapes, a large typeface and easily holdable cards for those with reduced dexterity.
The game can be purchased via the Relish website.