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Remarkable Lives blog - September 2018

Remarkable Lives blog

Blog 2: Making Progress with Remarkable Lives

It’s been a busy and exciting couple of months for the Remarkable Lives team on our Challenge Dementia journey. We’ve talked to a lot of people, we’ve listened and learned a lot, but we’ve also realised something – we need to do more than talking.

Fortunately, we’ve had a breakthrough. Spurred on by the support and encouragement of the Challenge Dementia Prize partners, we made the most of the feedback we’d had so far and set to over the summer on our product development. The result: we’re thrilled to announce the launch of the first version of our Remarkable Lives memory-sharing app!

Is it a final, finished, perfect product? By no means, but we’re channelling LinkedIn CEO, Reid Hoffman’s maxim, 'If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late'. Actually, we’re not too embarrassed, but you’ll be the best judges of that. Crucially, this is a big step forward for Remarkable Lives and we're excited to see people using the app already – over 100 downloads within the first week - to build a private timeline of memories for older people and especially those living with dementia.

How the public app works

The purpose of the Remarkable Lives memory-sharing app is to:

  • Help older people tell their life stories, fostering a renewed sense of dignity, identity and meaning
  • Enable families to save valuable memories (in many cases, before they're lost), for now and for future generations

The app builds an interactive timeline of memories. Whereas traditional social networks can’t back date, and document only what’s happening in our lives in the present, Remarkable Lives is unique in chronicling people’s life stories from the beginning. And although people can use it as a personal memoir, it’s main purpose is to encourage people to help save someone else’s life story, perhaps before it’s too late. Less selfie, more selfless.

Importantly, unlike so many digital products, it doesn’t require an older person and certainly not someone living with dementia, to operate it. Typically, someone else, such as a child or grandchild, will create the profile and build the timeline with photos and stories. It’s about encouraging a meaningful shared activity that connects people across the generations. It’s about building a community of support and empowerment around an older person.

During this testing phase, we’re trying to learn as much as possible, but we're also excited to have something tangible available for older people and families to trial. On this version of the public app you can:

  • Create a profile....or as many as you like, e.g. for an older relative
  • Add an image...old family photos are a good place to start
  • Add words.... tell the story behind the photo
  • Add the date...just the year is fine if you don’t know the full date
  • And post it to your private timeline...the app organises each memory in chronological order for you

There's also a special Discover button on the app for a bit of extra inspiration...but we'll let you discover what that reveals.

Some of the main benefits

  • No more lost or forgotten memories:
    Remarkable Lives is designed as a private digital album, a place to store old family photos and tell the story behind them.

  • A positive and practical resource for people living with dementia:
    For individuals and families facing the challenges of memory loss, Alzheimer’s, or other life-limiting conditions, Remarkable Lives acts as a positive reminiscence activity to give people their voice, and a renewed sense of dignity, identity and meaning.

  • The ultimate family story-time:
    An activity for everyone to collect stories, photos and mementos from parents and grandparents, and share a lifetime of moments for now and future generations, together.

  • The benefits of technology, without the hassle:
    The Remarkable Lives app prioritises and celebrates older people and those living with dementia by putting them at the centre of their story, without them having to work out the technology themselves.

  • Empowering older people, enabling caregivers:
    Remarkable Lives works like a care passport, so that the next person you meet on your journey through later life – a doctor, nurse, therapist, carer – can know so much more about WHO you are, much more than a collection of symptoms or a list of tasks.

Free to download to iPhone from the App Store and easy to get started:

Step 1:

Remarkable Lives - app on mobile. Create a new profile screen

Step 2:

Remarkable Lives - app on mobile. Derek Green (Grandpa) screenshot in Navy uniform

Step 3:

Remarkable Lives - app on mobile. Derek Green (Grandpa) building a boat

Step 4:

Remarkable Lives - app on mobile. Derek Green (Grandpa) overview screen

What’s coming up this month…

  • We’re developing our product and business models with the help of PA Consulting.
  • We’ll be benefiting from more expert advice from our mentor at LavanyaPlus – ‘the Amazon for Care’ – thanks to TechUK for connecting us.
  • Alzheimer’s Society research volunteers are going to be testing our app and we’re looking forward to their feedback.
  • Jewish Care homes, community centres and Dementia Support Social Groups in Essex are taking part in user-testing, and we’ll be meeting with care managers and activity staff to look at specific ways in which Remarkable Lives can help address their pain points.
  • More care homes and domiciliary care providers will be getting involved in interviews and workshops.
  • We’re looking forward to a review of our evaluation plans with the team at University of Essex.
  • And we’ll be responding to the feedback and our own observations with weekly product sprints and regular updates to the app.

It’s going to be another busy month!

Last but not least…

The only way we’ll know whether Remarkable Lives has the potential to transform the way people live with dementia in Essex, is by families, care providers and community groups getting involved with us. We’d really appreciate the opportunity to tell you more about our innovation and to hear from you about what you need. To participate please contact owen@remarkablelives.co.uk

But first, a great place to start is to go on the App Store and download our Remarkable Lives app to your iPhone. What’s more – it’s free!