Pitches of the 6 finalists of the WJC awards and reflection by Maartje

On 23 and 24 March, webinars were broadcasted from the Netherlands Innovation House at the Dutch Embassy in Stockholm. The webinar on March 23 was opened by Bengt van Loosdrecht, the Dutch Ambassador to Sweden. During the webinars, several lectures took place and the finalists pitched their prototype or product. The finalists in the category best prototypes were: CeCe from CREaiTors in Singapore, MyAvos from Switzerland and DeepVibes from Great Britain. In the best product category, the finalists were: InspireD Reminiscence app from Great Britain, Genus Home care from the Netherlands ReAct app from Denmark.

It was nice to hear the pitches and of course also nice to be present at the broadcast in Stockholm in the company of my daughter Maartje! She has written a nice blog about this from her experience as a humanist caregiver.

Reflectie op de World JAIN Challenge door Maartje de Haas, humanist counsellor
Last week I attended the World JAIN Challenge (WJC) in Stockholm with my mother. JAIN is an abbreviation and stands for: Joint Artificial Intelligence Network. JAIN's mission is to develop affordable assistive technologies for people with dementia and caregivers worldwide to improve the quality of life.
At the WJC, people from all over the world could submit ideas (prototypes) and products that fit JAIN's mission. The jury of this Challenge consists of a chairman (not coincidentally: my mother), people with dementia, family caregivers, care professionals, experts in the field of dementia and experts in the field of Artificial Intelligence. On April 6, the winners of the best prototype and the best product will be announced by Conny Helder, Minister for Long-Term Care and Sport.

Prior to this trip to Stockholm, I did not know whether this Challenge would be a good fit for my work. I work as a humanist counsellor in several nursing homes in Amsterdam. I see my work mainly as making a connection, with compassion at its core: seeing the other as a human being, rather than (for example) as a patient. When I think of assistive technologies in healthcare, I often get an uneasy feeling. As if technology is going to replace people, which is diametrically opposed to my vision.

At the WJC it became clear to me that technology can also have another effect. It can support the conversation with people suffering from dementia (or their carers). Several products and prototypes of the finalists were aimed at deepening the conversation. For example, by developing an app that can be used as a tool (based on reminiscence) to start a conversation between the person suffering from dementia and his/her environment. Or a tablet that makes accessible video calls possible, allowing carers to have more remote contact with their loved ones, giving them more peace of mind and less stress.
I think of the conversation I had years ago with a man with dementia in a nursing home. He comes from Ireland but has lived in the Netherlands for years. On a large screen I go to Google Maps and we type in his street name. By means of Google Streetview, we 'walk' through his old neighbourhood. Memories surface: the family doctor, the aunt, the place where he ate sweets during break or played with friends. Talking about these memories, seeing his old neighbourhood, realising that he has not forgotten everything: it gives him confidence and makes him happy. It was a wonderful conversation, made possible by technology. I realise, during this JAIN challenge, that my uneasy feeling with technology is not true: I have even used it in practice. How nice would it be to get more attention and more ideas about what else technology can do? Technology does not have to mean that the human side of care is diminished: in this way, it can even improve it. I am looking forward to following these developments and to working with them more consciously myself in practice.

Would you like to see the speakers at the event (Bengt van Loosdrecht, Prof. Charles Scerri, Dr. Franka Meiland, Prof. Dr. Arlene Astell, Prof. Bengt Wingblad, Prof. Dr. Wijnand IJsselsteijn, Prof. Dr. Ye-Liang Hsu) and the presentations of the finalists? You can do so via this link
Here you will also be able to watch the announcement of the winners on the 6th of April.
The WJC is a cooperation of INTERDEM, Alzheimer Nederland, Alzheimer Europe and Vilans. The Netherlands Innovation Network (based in the Dutch Embassy in Stockholm) was a great host for this event. JAIN was founded by Artificial Intelligence expert Hans Arnold, who now focuses on the field of dementia care. His son Thomas is co-founder.