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Grouple is a private online hub for families caring for someone with dementia. It is a secure and private online space to share responsibilities, observations and positive experiences, and an easy way to include more members of the family in the care effort.

Grouple was created as a winning entry to the Design Council’s ‘Living Well with Dementia’ design challenge, supported by the Department of Health. Studiohead created Grouple in collaboration with Ifung Lu, Louise Wilson, Meike Walcha, with help and advice from Dementia UK, Jewish Care and Adam Oliver from BT Innovate and Design.

Grouple came from an observation from personal experience, backed up through user research, that in many cases when a person with dementia (or comparable condition) is cared for, the care is usually led by a single family member. That person often has to drastically change their life, possibly giving up work and living away from their chosen home. The job of caring for a relative can be very positive and rewarding, but it can also be lonely, stressful and emotionally very challenging. We found that in most cases other relatives are keen to help with the care, but often managing others ends up being just an extra job for the primary carer as everyone naturally defers to a single point of contact for coordination, advice and news.

Grouple aims specifically to assist the primary carer is sharing out the responsibilities and experiences of caring for an individual with friends and relatives. Grouple becomes the single point of contact and a shared resource. On Grouple, relatives can share positive and worrying experiences, make suggestions, seek opinions from each other, and plan care schedules and visits.

Grouple is designed to be very easy to use, with simple, spacious and colourful interfaces, that inherently suggest how it can be used to maximum effect. Grouple is built around a simple timeline, that shows at a glance the gaps in the care schedule and invites members to fill them. It emphasises the use of photographs to make the experience engaging and encourage users to share moments of joy and success with each other.

At its best, Grouple could be used to extend the length of time that someone with dementia can live independently by helping the care givers to manage more effectively and for longer. In a care home situation, Grouple helps keep people up to date, helps them coordinate visits to provide maximum benefit, and breaks down the often intimidating prospect of visiting.

People who have cared for someone with Dementia will know the value of sharing positive experiences, such as the happiness that looking through a particular photograph album, or taking a particular walk, can bring. They also know the importance of sharing concerns and power of collectively, but sensitively, keeping an eye on someone’s welfare.

We hope that in many cases the person with dementia will play an active role in use of Grouple, sharing their own experiences and concerns, but in many cases that is not going to be practical. With the person’s dignity and privacy in mind Grouple is designed to be used by a small number of trusted friends and relatives on a secure and private platform.