DevaWorld features & How-to

DevaWorld supports people throughout  their dementia journey, from mild cognitive impairment to more severe stages. Supported by a care partner (a family member or care professional), participants navigate through a series of carefully designed environments filled with  opportunities  for interaction.  The participant assumes the role of the “player”, while their care partner assumes the role of the “supporter”.

The supporter assists the player in any way that helps to experience the world. They might help players to tap, or draw attention to objects in the world and suggest taking a closer look. (More about prompting below.) Both the player and the supporter explore the game as equals, and together partake in DevaWorld’s therapeutically-informed activities. DevaWorld is designed to soothe, delight, and strengthen your care partnership – one that can often be under strain from the stress of living with dementia.

Read on for more information on setup, on-boarding, players and sharing, and getting the most out of your play session. We’re glad you’re here. Come into our world!

As a person’s dementia progresses, independence is lost, confidence is eroded and the world shrinks. Typically, it becomes increasingly difficult for a person to express the impact of these losses or what they might need. Understandably, fear frustration, and restlessness can set in.  Some people find it easier to withdraw, they may seem bored or tired. Activities that were once enjoyed may now be disorienting and stressful. Yet, being under-stimulated also has its problems.

While living in one’s own home might sound ideal, just getting through the day can be a major challenge. Many people living with dementia are isolated – it’s hard to get out and friends visit less. Often, family members take on the care of a loved one at their own financial and emotional cost.

We built DevaWorld to help out. Deva contains fun interactive scenes where activities of daily living (ADLs) can be undertaken without risk or a sense of failure. It’s purposeful play that people find engaging. And when a person is engaged, dementia leaves the room.

Every aspect of DevaWorld, from the way places and activities gently unfold, to the decision to reduce unnecessary visual detail, like shadows,  is designed to reduce the cognitive load and allow the essential messaging to be clear and clean. DevaWorld is co-designed with people living with dementia, and is carefully engineered using universal design principles.

DevaWorld currently comprises 3 rooms – a living room, a bedroom, and a garden, which you can customize via your own dashboard, a web-based admin portal. DevaWorld sessions are enhanced by adding content that holds meaning to your player.  Currently, you can add videos, (your own or from royalty- free sites such as www.archive.org),  music and photographic images. You can now send video messages using your smart phone. All of these digital assets are then placed inside the world. To see the new content in-world, simply press the ‘refresh’ button at the start of your next session. You’ll have fun finding the new material  together!

You’ll need a touch-screen tablet (iOS or Android) connected to the Internet. Your provider takes out a subscription. We give them thorough training so they can they pass on all the tips and tricks to you. Once you join (you’ll receive an an email invitation from your care provider), you’ll set up a log in and password to gain access. You can then run DevaWorld sessions with your player. The app is free to download, and there are no in-app ads to distract you from the experience. DevaWorld is stored in the cloud, so any member of your care circle can enter DevaWorld on any tablet device using their own login and password.

  • On the Dashboard (see top right of this site to access it), you can add as many players as you wish. Always do the set up ahead of time.
  • First, set up your player’s profile. Include, if possible, a portrait-style snap. This image is the same one they will see in DevaWorld when the session starts; it’s a talking point, a great way to get going.
  • Still at the Dashboard, add photos to the family album, for more meaningful interactions. Family snaps work well, as do locations or historical events: the family sedan? A family home? A singer or movie star? An admired statesman or woman? Add as many images as you like. You can modify the album at any time. Uploading is easy, (select, drag and drop). You can also sort the order in which images appear, for example chronologically, or in way that tells a story. You can also add videos, upload your own videos, and more customizing features are coming soon; we’ll keep you posted.
  • For professional care organizations, don’t hesitate to involve the family via the share button, especially grandchildren.
  • Once you’ve set up your new player’s profile, it’s time to leave the Dashboard and head to the DevaWorld app on your tablet, choose your player, and start a session.
  • Don’t be in a rush. Be ready to play for at least 20 minutes; don’t be surprised if your session goes longer.
  • Remove distractions: if at home, turn off the stove, turn off music or the radio, choose a quiet time for you both. Ask tradespeople to stop the banging:)
  • Find a spot at a clean table or tray table.
  • Lighting: Avoid harsh lights overhead lights. Set lamp lights so that they do not shine directly onto the screen. Avoid glare. Strong light from windows reduces screen visibility and gets in players’ eyes.
  • Make sure your player is comfortably seated and is neither too warm nor too cold.
  • Seat yourself at the player’s preferred side, taking into account a weaker side, left or right handedness, and any vision issues.
  • Make sure your player has the correct glasses for close-up work, and that the lenses are clean. Ensure hearing aids, if needed, are functional.
  • Sit close, so that you both face the screen.
  • For best touchscreen sensitivity, your player’s fingers need to be dry and warm. Why not do some tapping warmups together: wiggle fingers, and open and close the palms, then practice tapping on the table together. Have a bit of fun. Fingers should now be warm.
  • It helps if your tablet device comes with a cover – you’ll be able to prop the tablet up if you choose.
Bring the same warm approach to the session as you would to any usual enjoyable activity. Some engagement ideas:
  • Explain that ‘tapping’ makes things happen. This may not be intuitive.
  • Ask your player to identify objects on the screen. “What can you see?” “Let’s see what happening with the record player” “I wonder what the cat wants” and so on. Use the interactions as a jumping-off point for conversation if it feels right.
  • We all love choices. Give “either/or” choices to your player; for example: “Would you like to see the bedroom – or the garden?”.
  • Take it slowly, don’t be afraid to give your player time to take in the scene; you may find that they initiate interactions of their own accord if they are given the space to do so.
  • Try not to throw too many ideas around. Instead, try to tune into your player’s response time.
  • Validate the player’s interpretations of the world, and be encouraging.
  • You can make a prompt – or leave it to Julie, the Deva companion. Julie makes suggestions every so often. If your player needs to help with tapping (e.g., shaky hands; difficulty with hand/eye coordination), start by asking if you may help, then gently pick up his/her hand and encourage them to tap with the ball of their finger. Independent tapping can come with practice – some players get better at it as they become more familiar with the game. Check with your player throughout the session to see if they are happy to continue.
  • Think of DEVA as “play” rather than a game: there is no set goal, no set time, no finishing point. As a wise person once said: it’s not about getting there – it’s the journey that counts. Play more than twice per week – you’ll likely get different reactions each time. Don’t worry if on any given day your player has less interest than on others; that’s life! (She’s chatty, but you don’t need to take them!)

To end your DevaWorld play session, press the “end session” button. A screen will show up where you can see the duration played and log feedback, which you can later access and share on Deva Dashboard. Duration can be helpful when reporting to family members and for hand-overs. Shorter than usual duration could indicate an unexpressed need – trip to the bathroom? Pain? Hungry? Feeling unwell? Keen to be outside?

After a session, be alert to your player’s mood. Has it changed? Does she/he seem more settled than before? Even if a player may not retain the memory of playing, senses and emotions associated with well-being may be prolonged. And what about you? Perhaps a session makes your time during and afterward a little easier. Maybe you’re feeling calmed by the experience too. Make a note of any changes in you. As a caregiver, your well-being is critical; this is your journey, too.