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  • Writer's pictureStuart

How to get your loved one to engage with Mindings – 10 Top Tips

One of our users, Michael, asked how he could encourage his mother to engage with Mindings. In our experience, there are many ways to get a person in the habit of interacting with Mindings, habit being the key. Here are our Top 10 tips

1. Set-up Mindings in a place where it will be seen several times throughout the day

Mindings probably shouldn’t be placed right in the users line of sight, or even in their peripheral vision, as it could just become an annoyance – flickering away all day with no new content. With my own father I’ve placed Mindings on a shelf in the line of sight when he enters the door of the living room, that way he sees it first thing in the morning, and every time he makes a cup of tea, or goes to the toilet etc. Other users have set-up Mindings next to the kettle in the kitchen, or on a dresser or shelf in the hall. Rather than being constantly in the user’s face, I find it’s better to be somewhere that will definitely be seen several times throughout a day. Using the feature to “pause the stream” when sending new content means that if a person passes Mindings by, or it catches their eye half-a dozen times in a day, they will immediately spot the new piece of content – and be motivated to press “Got-It!“.

2. Send content regularly

The simplest way to get a user to interact with Mindings more, is to send content regularly. If there are rarely new pictures or texts appearing on Mindings, the user will just blank it out. But, if there’s something new most days, the user will make a habit of looking at it at least once a day to see if theres anything new. If you’re able to send something at the same time each day that helps too. Often, older people living at home have lives driven by routine. So if you can fit in around their routine, or even create a new routine, you’ll increase the chance of the user taking to Mindings. One user was greatly drawn to Mindings, because of a chance of geography. She lived in England and her son lived in Florida. As long as her son send something at any point through an evening from 5pm onwards, the five hour time difference meant that she received it through the night, so every morning she would wake up to a new picture or text message – and loved Mindings as a result of that unplanned fluke of timing.

Also, as a result of this time difference, combined with the mother getting up at the same time every day, her son would receive a Got-It! at 1pm every day, regular as clockwork, so he’d know his Mum was alive, well and interacting with the world. Which is ultimately what Mindings is all about.

One of our independent clinical trials suggested that Mindings made 38% of participants report a positive impact on quality of life and 43% an impact on happiness – when content was received regularly (preferably daily, and certainly more than once a week).

3. Write more descriptive text

When sending a picture – add a more personalised and fuller description. Don’t just send a picture of the neighbour’s cat or a flower in your garden with the caption “Cat” or “Flower”. Instead, try “This is Fonzie, he’s the neighbour’s cat, but he likes sleeping on our deck”, or “First tulip of the spring! This is from the bulbs we bought in Amsterdam”. It becomes a conversation piece for a future phone call and it lends itself to further similar pictures, building a narrative. When sending a text, write fuller messages. Mindings is good at fitting even quite long messages on the screen (thanks to the variable text size feature). You can also add instructions or calls to action, e.g. “Remember to write this on the calendar”. We had some great learnings on this issue during a Mindings dementia trial in Suffolk.

4. Send older pictures as well as new pictures

It’s great to “share the moment” and send a picture of what’s happening now, but you can just as easily send a older picture. It stimulates subsequent telephone discussions, and for users with dementia it’s proven to be a great tool for reminiscence therapy. Also, Mindings has a great “Favourites” feature. If you think that you won’t be able to send a new picture every day, you can add some “favourite” pictures to the Stream. Upload pictures via the Admin Website (or select some favourites from the Archive), and mark them as “Favourites”. In the Display Settings section of the General Settings tab select how many of those Favourites you’d like in the stream, and each day that number of pictures will be picked at random from the Archive and added. This is a great way to re-use familiar pictures, such as older family photos, which can be enjoyed again.

We recommend keeping the number low, maybe only one or two in a stream of ten, as Mindings should never just be seen as a random selection of pictures, instead Mindings is what is happening now, and recently.

5. Use the Multi-Response feature

When sending a text message, you have the option of adding up to four responses. The user has the option of giving a response, rather than just a GotiIt! For people who live in residential care, their lives are often living routines created by other. But this feature gives them a little control back. So, if you’re sending a message saying “I’m coming to visit you this afternoon”, you might want to add “What time would suit you?” then add some options of times. Or, you can add options such as “That’s fine”, “Call me to discuss” so the person has the option of saying no, or saying that they already have plans, or that they need some shopping. Multi-Responses can be added to pictures. In one trial we used it to invite people to an Age UK Day Centre for lunch!

6. Create a “Grouping” to send content

You can add an unlimited number of people to the Mindings Address Book, so other people can engage and share content with the user. If you’re unable to send something every single day yourself, you can share the load with other family members, friends or carers. As families used to do with phone calls, you can allocate a day and/or time to an individual. Often people prefer to just agree to a specific, regular commitment, rather than a general “you can send anything, anytime” as they can stick it in their diary, kitchen wall-chart, family calendar etc. Also, when there’s no structure, often no-one sends anything, assuming that someone else is… Don’t forget, because it’s an App, kids are happy to join in because it’s what they do all day anyway!

Read more about the “Groupings” concept we created for people who have fewer opportunities of support from family or friends.

7. Change the GotIt! button

There are a few options to prompt users to press the GotIt! button. We discovered that some people didn’t understand the relevance of the GotIt! button, or even that it was a button, and not just a logo, and thus they didn’t engage with Mindings. So, we added more prominent “Confirm Receipt!” button options. Check the “Response Setting” in the “General Settings” tab of the Mindings Admin Site.

You can see examples of this here.

8. Don’t obsess about the content

The quality of picture or text you send is not important. Because Mindings is instant, the user knows that when they receive something, it means at that moment someone is thinking about them – and THAT is what is important. A text could be a simple “Happy Tuesday! I hope you have a nice day today!”, or a picture of your lunch captioned “Salad for me today, I hope you’re eating something healthy!” Pictures don’t have to be the big occasions, stunning landscapes, or masterpieces of photography, it’s about that thought, and with Mindings, quantity can be more important than quality – one simple message or text a day is so much better than one great picture a week.

9. Leave Mindings on 24/7

iPads are tricky to start up as is swiping-to-open and launching an App – particularly if the user is technology-shy, or has a physical or cognitive impairment. So that Mindings can stay switched on 24/7 without causing the anxiety of an electrical device being left on, we have built in a “Sleep Mode”. It’s not possible for the Mindings App to actually switch the iPad off, so at the selected time (which you can set on the Sleep tab on the Admin Website) the Mindings screen will go black, with some dark grey text saying that Mindings is asleep and specifying the off and on time. The iPad in this mode draws minimal power, and it’s perfectly safe to leave it switched on. iPads are tested to the strictest safety standards, and we have many users who have had Mindings switched on literally for years. We have had users with dementia who have tried switching off their iPad at night, their families have successfully used plug guards to prevent this.

10. Add stuff *you* are doing to the calendar

The Calendar is a hugely useful feature, and lists items for that day in a convenient daily task list-style format. It’s useful for reminding the user of appointment, deliveries, visitors etc and helping them better engage with their family, friends and their own life. But, another use for the calendar is to tell the user where their family or friends are that day. Adding items like “Stuart and family at Disneyland Paris”, “Susan at meeting in Newcastle”, “Sunny in New York for weekend”, “Vikki on Day Shift” help make the user less anxious about where everyone is, so they know they might not get a visit or a phone call that day. Also, it’s been reported that it brings a sense of pride to users to know where their family is and what they’re doing, particulary if asked by other people.

If you have any tips, or need any help with setting up Mindings, please get in touch.


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