People with dementia try out a range of mobile devices

From the June/July 2016 issue of our magazine, a group of people with dementia in West Sussex try out three very different mobile phones.

Mobile phones

Doro's smartphone, simple phone and the 'clamshell' design

Worthing Town Cryers, one of our service user review panels, meets monthly to give feedback on a range of subjects. We asked them what they thought of three mobile phones, all from one company called Doro, that are available in our online shop.

At a busy meeting, members of the group looked at a 'clamshell' or 'flip' phone, which you open to answer calls and close to end them.

We also showed them a fully-functioning smartphone that has been specially designed to be easy to use, and a very simple phone that can also let trusted contacts know where you are.

Clamshell phone 

The PhoneEasy 612 is a popular phone for people who want something that's straightforward to call and text with, and which can also take pictures and be used as an alarm.

It is a durable design with a large keypad and screen. In addition to the usual keys, it has three marked A, B and C that can be set up to call a person's most used numbers.

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Most of the group liked this phone, including the fact that a start-up wizard helps you to customise and set it up when you first use it.

Dave and Alan both liked the phone's simplicity. Nigel wasn't surprised that this is Doro's bestselling phone – he also uses a clamshell phone because it's easy to open, even with one hand.

Janice was impressed by the phone's long battery life, lasting for over 500 hours on standby.

Reassuringly, it has an emergency assist button on the back that can be programmed to alert up to five contacts if you ever need help.

Smartphone

The Liberto 825 is a smartphone that can use all the usual apps for checking anything from where you are to what the weather forecast is, or for keeping in touch through Facebook, Skype or email.

As Stan pointed out, referring to how his children use their smartphones,

'You can do everything on them except cook food!'

Some, including Tony and Michael, were accustomed to smartphones and made good use of them, while others were less confident.

However, this phone is designed so that you only need to learn the aspects that you actually want to use, with a 'coach' popping up to help when you do something for the first time.

As well as buttons for frequent contacts, you use three buttons – call, view and send – to do most things. These lead you through simple step-by-step processes using clear language. Trying these out, Stan agreed that they were very straightforward and easy to understand.

The smartphone also has an emergency assist button on the back, which can send the phone's location to up to five people along with an alert message.

Assistive technology and dementia

Find out what the benefits and difficulties of assistive technology are for a person with dementia.

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Simple phone

The Secure 580 is a very simple device with four large buttons instead of a keypad, which can be programmed (and labelled) to call four specific numbers. It cannot make calls to anyone else, and you can choose for it to only accept calls from a 'white list' of up to 20 numbers.

Although it is not a smartphone – and so cannot be used to access a map – the device's emergency assist button can still be set up to send the phone's location to up to five pre-programmed contacts.

An assigned relative or friend can also message the device to check its location at any time if they are worried.

It is designed with a good grip and long battery life.

Janice, showing everyone the phone she keeps at the bottom of her handbag but doesn't even switch on, said the Secure 580 sounded very useful to her.

Steve also preferred this device, though David and Ray were less sure, saying they would probably want a family member to help pick one for them.

The PhoneEasy 612 is £66.67, the Liberto 825 is £208.33 and the Secure 580 is £108.32 – all plus VAT, though people with dementia or other long-term conditions do not have to pay VAT on these products. 

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