SF senior home recognized by Fast Company for virtual memory care J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on May 18, 2022

Driving through the mountains. Walking on the beach. Feeling the wind on your face. These are some of the tactile experiences being brought to patients with dementia in an experimental simulation project at the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living.

Now the project has won recognition for its platform combining new and existing technologies to provide a multisensory experience as potential treatment for the degenerative disease. The Memory Care Experience Station was named a finalist in Fast Companys World Changing Ideas Awards, which are focused on social good.

The project began as the brainchild of Daniel Ruth, who retired in January as SFCJL president and CEO after 20 years. The work started in 2018, when the Jewish senior residence hosted a design competition to bring shape to the yet unrealized idea.

Michael Skaff, chief information officer, said the project is one-of-a-kind, combining science and experience.

Its designed to work within each residents ability, provide stimulating, creative activities and potentially reduce negative symptoms and challenging behaviors associated with dementia, he said.

The Memory Care Experience Station consists of a large, curved TV in a cabinet along with a sound system, fans, scent devices and a chair set up on a rumble pad. The TV plays video of a chosen theme making a pizza in Rome, driving a car in the Swiss Alps, a recreation of the 1969 Apollo 11 space shuttle launch while the sounds, fans, scents and rumble pad work together to simulate the sensory experience.

Maria Mortati is the project lead and the primary designer. She came on board in 2019 to turn the conceptual idea into a working set-up. The project sits at an intersection of best practice care for dementia and human-centered interactive design, Mortati said. The goal is to give patients back their best ability to function within their disease.

We have life enrichment programs on campus that are very successful this is to augment that, Mortati said. If we can give one-on-one or one-on-two very high impact experiences for 20, 15 minutes at a time to an individual, we can give them a little bit of relief from the disease.

The Memory Care Experience Station is still in its early stages. Mortati and her team have just begun to test the results and will gather measurable data once more patients have used the station. Long-term goals, supported by a recent grant from the Sephardic Foundation on Aging, include training campus staff to operate the system and making the station mobile. The project previously has received grants from the Canada-based Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation.

The projects recognition by Fast Company is another step in eventually bringing the project to the public outside the SFCJL.

We are honored to have been recognized by Fast Company, Skaff said. We have a long road ahead, but its nice to have some external validation that other people think that this is pretty incredible, too.

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SF senior home recognized by Fast Company for virtual memory care J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

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