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  • A Clock That Does Not Tell The Time

    By Hazel Boyd (User Interface Engineer) and Nina Evans (Occupational Therapist)

    Why was a Day Clock needed?

    The team at Designability had been receiving more and more contacts from relatives of people with dementia who were looking for a clock that could help them to understand time. They were finding that the existing calendar products did not always meet their needs because they were displaying the exact time and date which is too detailed for some.

    Our days are structured around what day of the week it is and what part of the day it is. Knowing this can be difficult for people with dementia who struggle with ‘time orientation’, i.e. the ability to know where they are in their day in relation to time.

    We were keen to respond to the feedback that people want to be reassured of the day, and what part of the day, it is. This led us to research and develop the Day Clock whilst keeping people with dementia and their families at the heart of its design to reflect their needs and particular requirements.

    What exactly is the Day Clock?

    The Day Clock takes the form of a clear digital display that shows the day of the week and what part of the day (morning, afternoon, evening or night) it is, rather than telling you the time.

    Can you explain time orientation in more detail?

    Time is the way we measure our past, present and future. Time comes and passes in terms of day, date or year. Time orientation means that we have an acute awareness of where we are in relation to time.

    The ability to use our memory, attention and sense of time to understand our place in time is something many of us take for granted. But being aware of time is actually an awareness of our natural ‘body clock’ combined with the measurements of time we learned in childhood, as well as the social conventions we all follow which add structure to our day.

    Imagine your day today. Perhaps it’s mid-morning on a Thursday and you’re busy at work. You are probably planning to be in bed asleep at night-time and then you might have a plan to meet a friend tomorrow afternoon. The ability to link time to routine is a really important aspect of daily life.

    Why do people with memory loss struggle with time orientation?

    For people living with dementia the structure and chemistry of the brain are affected, which means that their ability to remember, understand, communicate and reason is impaired. This can create difficulties in knowing what day or time it is, or whether it is day or night.

    We know that time orientation is very complex which means that disorientation can fluctuate. Not knowing where you are in relation to time can cause great anxiety for the person experiencing it as well as those caring for them. Memory loss and dementia affects both the sense of time as well as the ability to tell the time.

    Why does it say “Now it’s”?

    We added the words “Now it’s” to give the time display some context. Displaying the information as a statement helps to clarify that the display is always current and not just a static phrase.

    How does this help people with memory loss or dementia?

    The Day Clock is a useful reminder of the part of day which links directly to the familiar pattern of our everyday lives. There are a number of key features which make it helpful:

    • It lets the person know if it is day or night which is particularly useful during times of the year when it is dark in the morning or lighter in the evening.
    • The minimal, clear presentation of the key text means that there is only a limited amount of information to process.
    • The simplicity of the display is useful for people who can still read but who are experiencing time disorientation and cannot make sense of the exact time or date.

    What user testing was involved in the design of the Day Clock?

    We consulted with carers, people with dementia and occupational therapists to determine the requirements for the clock, review the concepts and user test the design.

    How did you test the Day Clock to ensure it was useful?

    We constructed four original prototypes which were trialled by four pairs of volunteers and provided some promising feedback. One volunteer described how her relative was able to see the correct day and part of the day so she could understand when to expect care workers and when to watch television (she only liked to watch it in the afternoons and evenings).

    Designability then produced a first market version of the Day Clock using digital photo frames which proved popular but not sustainable. To be able to meet a growing demand for the product we engaged with DF Sales Ltd. who are now the manufacturers and suppliers of the Day Clock.

    Further evaluation feedback has since been generated through our engagement with the Memory Technology Library project in Bath 2013-14. This project collated over a hundred reviews of the Day Clock using goal setting as a measure. The goals identified by carers for using the Day Clock were:

    • to reduce persistent questions
    • to provide reassurance
    • to help to determine day and night
    • to help follow a routine.

    We are pleased to say that the Day Clock managed to meet most of the goals that were set.

    How many have been sold?

    Over 10,000 clocks have been sold worldwide and it is now available in seven languages.

    Finally the question “Why don’t you just add?”

    We are often asked “why not add extra messages or additional information to the Day Clock?” We believe that the simplicity of the Day Clock belies the thought behind the design and that the requirements identified by the users, carers and therapists are key to its success.
    However, we do plan to continue our work in the use of these kinds of reminders to support the needs of people with dementia.

  • Sunday Times features Day Clock in association with

    James Ashwell aged 24 discovered that his mum had dementia at the shockingly early age of 54. James, now 34 is the founder of, James and his father devoted their lives to caring for his mother, Fay, until James’ father sadly died of a rare disease. James first realised his mother, Fay, had a problem when they had a close call when she started driving on the wrong side of the road, James and his school friend were passengers at the time.

    With an already staggering £2m funding and the prospect of a further £5m, James is really trying to push the website and it is looking on course for changing the way people see dementia. Once the website goes live in June it will hopefully catch on pretty fast and people can learn about the day to day struggles that they have to go through, and also give sufferers a piece of mind.

    Some of the products that a featured are the easy-to-use cutlery, a robotic seal which makes friendly noises when stroked, a wearable airbag to prevent hip breaks, which is one of the main causes of hospital admissions for people with dementia and also our great Day Clock which helps people with dementia tell what time of day it is.

    Day Clock

    The Day Clock is a great way of helping dementia sufferers by displaying simple text, which says what part of the day it is. Our Day Clock is described as ‘A Clock that dispenses with potentially confusing digital displays’. The way in which it helps people struggling with dementia is that it isn’t over complicated like normal clocks; it just displays text such as ‘Now it’s Sunday Morning’. To view our Day Clock product please click here.

  • How Designability's products are helping to make it easier to live with the effects of Dementia

    There are currently 850,000 people in the UK today living with dementia, a number that is forecast to rise to over one million by 2025 and more than double that figure by 2050. These rising figures confirm that the demand for these products will increase over the years.

    The two main symptoms of Dementia are short term memory loss and time orientation problems; it’s no wonder that it is the second most feared condition across adults. Designability, a Bath-based charity supply people with dementia and Alzheimer’s with products that make their daily life a lot easier and help them regain their independence.

    Hazel Boyd, User Interface Engineer at Designability said: "Time orientation problems can be very distressing and can cause a lot of repeated questions for the person with dementia because they can't be sure what time of the day it is.” But with simple products like the Day Clock, this problem can be resolved.

    Hazel Boyd

    Hazel Boyd

    User Interface Engineer

    A lot of work is put into not overcomplicating the product, the Ward Clock for example, has colour coordinated power and HDMI leads, to easily show what cable goes where. The Ward Clocks are programmed to the customer specification before shipping, so that the customer doesn't have to alter the date or time themselves.

    Designability based the Day Clock mostly on market research, after a few weeks of testing the trial Day Clock, they were able to respond to feedback and create a simple yet effective product which could improve the life and well-being of a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Also available in many languages, the Day Clock is now sold worldwide.

    Recently the Day Clock and One Button Radio have been mentioned in the Bath Chronicle, highlighting the difference it can make. This article can be found here.

    More information about Designability's products can be found on the charity's website,

  • Common over the Counter Drugs linked to Dementia

    A recent study shows that common over the counter drugs, used for common conditions such as insomnia and hay fever may cause, or lead to Dementia. The US study suggests that excessive or prolonged uses of these common drugs are linked to higher dementia risk in elderly people. The research is only based on elderly people and found that the increase risk only appeared when people took drugs every day, for three or more years. Experts say there is no need to panic, and people should continue taking their medicines.

    The US research does not outline or name any specific brands, however it does outline the types of treatments investigated, these include;

    • Tricyclic antidepressants for treating depression
    • Antihistamines used to treat hay-fever and allergies
    • Antimuscarinics for treating urinary incontinence

    The majority of these drugs were given on prescription by doctors, rather than being purchased over the counter at pharmacies.

    The Study was carried out at the University of Washington by Dr Shelly Gray and colleagues. They followed the health of 3,434 people aged over 65 who were all on common types of medication; at the beginning of the study none of these patients had any form of Dementia. This study followed these patients over a decade, and found 797 of the participants developed some form of Dementia.

    Dr Gray has said “We will look at the brain pathology and see if we can find a biological mechanism that might explain our results". It is unclear if these cases were truly linked with the medication that the participants were taking, however it is certainly not something which can be ruled out. Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said “The study was interesting but not definitive - there was, no evidence that these drugs cause dementia”. Dr Doug Brown, from the UK’s Alzheimer’s Society has said “We would encourage doctors and pharmacists to be aware of this potential link and would advise anyone concerned about this to speak to their GP before stopping any medication”.

  • The power of music!

    Dementia is rapidly becoming the health and social care challenge of the 21st century. Numbers affected are set to soar because of an expanding older population. Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes.

    • By 2015 there will be 850,000 people with dementia in the UK.
    • There are 40,000 younger people with dementia in the UK.
    • There are 25,000 people with dementia from black and minority ethnic groups in the UK.
    • There will be 1 million people with dementia in the UK by 2025.
    • Two thirds of people with dementia are women.

    Here are 9 different ways of spotting signs and symptoms of dementia:

    1. Struggling to remember recent events, but easily recalling things from the past
    2. Finding it hard to follow conversations or programmes on TV
    3. Forgetting the names of friends or everyday object
    4. Repeating yourself or losing the thread of what you are saying
    5. Problems with thinking and reasoning
    6. Feeling anxious, depressed or angry about forgetfulness
    7. Other people starting to comment on your forgetfulness
    8. Confused even when in a familiar environment
    9. A decline in the ability to talk, read or write.

    The power of music:

    Music can unlock memories and kick start the grey matter is an increasingly key feature of dementia care. It seems to reach parts of the damaged brain in ways other forms of communication cannot.

    Recently, Age UK reported on how music can impact the lives of people living with dementia and that it is now a regular feature in dementia care. “We tend to remain contactable as musical beings on some level right up to the very end of life,” says Professor Paul Robertson, a concert violinist and academic who has made a study of music in dementia care.

    Music provides many benefits for people living with dementia; both for improving the quality of life, especially when living alone, and for its healthy restorative effects on memory. A common problem however, has been that operating musical equipment often causes difficulty and confusion.

    Technology is storming ahead with smartphones but is leaving older people behind who just want to hear music. Until now…

    The One Button Radio has been developed and designed as a joint venture between DF Sales Ltd. and Design-ability (formerly Bath Institute of Medical Engineering), who previously worked together to release the Day Clock and Ward Clock.

    The One Button Radio is a new innovation designed to offer an easy way to listen to your favourite radio stations without the hassle of constantly retuning and changing the volume. Perfect for those who have their favourite station on all day, every day, or for those who find product controls difficult or confusing. We find that this is a great help to those with memory problems or dementia, dexterity problems or for those with visual impairments.

    The Radio has two main control dials; one for volume and one for frequency. This allows you to tune the radio to the exact Station and Volume you wish to listen to and turn the radio on by pressing the large button on the top of the Radio. The control knobs can be removed and placed in the rear compartment of the radio for safe storage and the magnetic panel covers the buttons to keep your settings in the right place.

    The styling is also reminiscent of old radios and is instantly recognisable as something which plays music.

    Day Clock

    Key features include:

    • Extremely easy to set up and use.
    • Both mains powered and battery operated.
    • Retro look.
    • AUX input.
    • Brand new to the UK.
    • 12 month warranty

    We’re delighted to work with Design-ability again and bring the One Button Radio to market. This fantastic radio will help people reconnect with a world they thought they had forgotten.

    RRP £59.99

    SPECIAL OFFER – Christmas gift bundle

    Day clock Banner Blog.jpeg

  • New Dementia Friendly Facility Opens & DF Sales Visit

    The Trust’s new dementia friendly care facility, located at West Health Hospital, has opened its doors to patients.

    Willow House is a dedicated 18-bed ward, using national best practice and design to create an environment sensitive to the needs of people with dementia. It has been supported by a Department of Health grant of £1m.

    BCHC chief operating officer Andy Harrison said: “We are delighted that this unit has now opened to patients.

    “More than a third of people we care for in our inpatient units have a dementia-related diagnosis on top of their primary reason for being admitted. Many people with dementia find it stressful to be admitted to an inpatient facility and may suffer a loss of confidence and independence as a result. “

    The new facility has been created within an existing ward, refurbished to include features such as an enclosed garden, colour coding, dementia friendly signage, memory boards, Dementia Ward Clock and symbols to help patients navigate and enjoy their environment. The dementia Ward Clock is a 27” Ward Orientation Clock designed by the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering.  The Ward Clock has five slides which help patients by displaying the date, time period, analogue clock, personalised ward information slide and seasonal photos which represent each season. This has already proven hugely popular amongst staff and patients. Here’s what Mark Guttridge, Project Officer had to say about the Ward Clock:

    “The Clock is superb. The patients and the staff love it! I would be very happy to recommend this product to other hospitals and NHS staff”.

    Willow House is a modern, fit-for-purpose facility within which can receive excellent, dedicated care and increased support from our staff and their carers and family members.

    DF Sales Visit

    Head of Sales, Matthew Smith and Product Manager, Jon Stutter (Right) recently went to Willow House to meet with Mark Guttrigde (Left) and see the new dementia ward and the Ward Clock in use.  We were very impressed with the overall set up and the calm atmosphere across the Ward.
    The Ward Clock looked great in use and it was very rewarding to get such good feedback from hospital staff and the patients who use our product each day. Mark and the other hospital staff were particularly pleased with how easy the Ward Clock is to use and due to the fact the software is pre-set, no efforts are required to update the information displayed on the Ward Clock. It was great to see the impact that our product can have and we hope to continue getting our Ward Clock into this type of environment.

  • Longitude Prize 2014

    The first Longitude Prize was offered in 1714 when the British government threw down the gauntlet to solve the greatest scientific challenge of the century. In that specific case, they wanted to know exactly how to pinpoint a ship’s location at sea by knowing its longitude.

    Now, 300 years on from the original prize, they are launching a new prize. They have 6 separate issues of our time, and being run and developed by Nesta, with the Technology Strategy Board as launch funding partner, they are offering £10 million to help solve one of these issues. The challenge that they choose to fund, will be decided by a public vote, which closes at 7.10pm on the 25th June.

    The result will then be announced live on BBC The One Show that night.

    The 6 challenges that have been put forward for vote are:

    • Paralysis - How can we restore movement to those with paralysis?
    • Antibiotics - How can we prevent the rise of resistance to antibiotics?
    • Food - How can we ensure everyone has nutritious, sustainable food?
    • Water - How can we ensure everyone can have access to safe and clean water?
    • Dementia - How can we help people with dementia live independently for longer?
    • Flight - How can we fly without damaging the environment?

    Due to the fact we are the proud commercial partner for the Day Clock, DF Sales Ltd naturally have have chosen to support and vote for Dementia.

    It is estimated that 135 million people worldwide will have Dementia by 2050, this presents a great personal and financial cost to society, and with no existing cure there is a need to find ways to support a person’s dignity and extend their ability to live independently. If dementia was to win the £10 million Longitude Prize, they will be aiming to develop intelligent, yet affordable technologies that revolutionises care for people with dementia enabling them to live truly independent lives.

    The Day Clock has been designed to help people living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, with a simple and clear display showing the time of day as either morning, afternoon, evening or night. The Day Clock is ideal for people living with Dementia as they can often lose the ability to distinguish between day and night. It can therefore assist primary carers by ensuring the daily routine can be maintained. The Day Clock therefore answers the question of ‘How can we help people with dementia live independently for longer?’, however further research is required to develop an integrated system to address specific needs, such as way-finding, social interaction, memory, and health management.

    Hazel Boyd, User Interface Engineer at Designability (Bath Institute of Medical Engineering) spoke to BBC Radio 4 in more depth about the Longitude Prize 2014 and Dementia. Please follow the link below to listen to a 30 minute broadcast on the topic. (Hazel Begins at 25:31)

    You may also find this link useful to find out more information on the Longitude Prize 2014 as a whole:

  • Steve's Day Clock

    Steve was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago. He uses our Day Clock and finds it really “makes life easier”.

    Steve still lives at home independently so his granddaughter, Emma, ensures he’s safe living on his own.

    When he was first diagnosed, Emma said it was a “steep learning curve” for her and Steve and one of his biggest problems was time orientation.

    Emma discovered, through speaking to the neighbours, that Steve would sometimes go out in the evening to get his morning paper and she was worried about him walking around, cold and confused, in the middle of the night.

    Like so many of us these days, she turned to the internet to find a solution and found our Day Clock through the Alzheimer’s Society website.

    Steve was reluctant to try it at first.

    “What do I want that for?” was his initial response, but after only 2 weeks he had radically changed his mind. The clock was now “invaluable” and made a “massive difference” to their daily lives.

    For Steve the Day Clock restored meaning to the ‘time’ displayed on his normal clock, or watch. He knew it was 9 o’clock before, but not what that meant in relation to his daily routine.

    She said “it’s worth its weight in gold because you suddenly realise how much of a difference it makes to him” and “he really does believe the information it’s telling him”.

    The Day Clock costs £79.99 which can be a considerable cost for someone living with dementia and their family. However, Emma explained that the difference it makes justifies the cost: “it’s such an inexpensive aid for somebody to be able to stay in their own home”. She knows that if Steve went into a nursing home “he would just lose the will to live”.

    Would Emma recommend it?
    “Yes, and I have!”

    “I love the Day Clock – I think they’re fabulous.”

    This article was first published on

  • Day Clock - As Featured by David Cameron

    Transforming Britain's Response to Dementia

    Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron talks about how much of an impact Dementia is to our country. He goes on to describe how painful it is for loved ones seeing their husbands, wives, daughters, sons and friends becoming sincerely affected.

    "For too long we as a country stuck our heads in the sand. This is a condition that costs around £19 billion a year in England – higher than the costs of cancer, heart disease or stroke – and yet on everything from diagnosis to research funding, we failed to keep pace. Dementia was ignored, down-played or mistaken as a natural part of the ageing process."

    The UK has been progressing over the year after being woken up to dementia by David Cameron and the Government by shouting about how much of a impact it is. Since then the NHS has now improved ways to diagnose Dementia at a early stage to make life a lot easier for people.

    Dementia is like any other disease; catch it early and you can make life a lot easier for people and the PM tells how awareness campaigns being run on TV are working effectively and also getting GPs to check closely for signs of dementia.

    The PM continues to praise how the work of The Royal United Hospital Bath, one of the growing number of hospitals in the UK to help dementia, has specifically designed dementia wards to help patients feel more relaxed and at home. Aside from the fantastic care the patients receive, the RUH also has our Dementia Orientation Clocks within the Dementia wards. The Orientation Clock is an adaption to our award winning Day Clock, and is proven to significantly help people with dementia maintain their daily routine and reduce anxiety about the time of day and them missing key events.

    The Ward Orientation Clocks’ clear and simple display of “Now it’s Monday Morning” was developed by Designability (Bath Institute of Medical Engineering) with the aim of helping people with dementia be able to link the time of day to their daily routine.

    "So we’re spending £50 million on making hospitals and care homes more dementia-friendly."

    Thankfully since the work of David Cameron, GPs and residents of the UK, Dementia diagnostic rates are going up but not a rate they should be. So the UK will be working on getting more people checked out and diagnosed.

  • The Dementia Day Clock - Featuring On Sirona Health Care

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