Tovertafel shows positive benefits for residents at two Covenant Care sites
Residents in two Covenant Care communities are enjoying an opportunity to play with a high-tech gaming system. This isn’t the latest PlayStation. It’s Tovertafel, an innovative system from the Netherlands specifically designed for people in the mid-to-late stages of dementia.
And it’s a hit. Residents and staff have all benefitted from the entertainment, connection and play provided by Tovertafel.
“We’ve been really impressed with residents’ engagement with Tovertafel so far,” says Jo Ann Molloy, who was the vice president, resident experience at Covenant Care before becoming the senior operating officer at the Misericordia Community Hospital. “It’s been easy for the sites to implement, and the results were quickly noticeable.”
Jo Ann, along with Rosa Rudelich, chief operating officer for Covenant Health, was first introduced to the gaming system during a tour of the Netherlands’ world-famous seniors' health and dementia care delivery system.
What excited Covenant staff about the gaming system was how it catered specifically to dementia care. It allowed seniors to interact in cognitive and social ways that weren’t intimidating, complicated or confusing.
The pilot started in two locations – Villa Marie in Red Deer and St. Teresa Place in Calgary – in January 2021, thanks to support from Covenant Foundation and its generous donors. Since then, the pilot has been expanded and Covenant Foundation has funded additional Tovertafel systems in more sites including the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre, Foyer Lacombe, St. Joseph's Auxiliary Hospital and Villa Caritas.
"We are grateful for our donors who make it possible for us to invest in leading-edge equipment and technology like Tovertafel, which gives residents new experiences and opportunities to engage with others, says Lisa Munro, President & CEO of Covenant Foundation. "We are so proud to be able to support this type of innovative experience that enhances holistic care – body, mind and soul."
In 2021, Covenant was the only organization in Canada that was using this device with its seniors.
Tovertafel, which means “magic table,” was launched in 2015 by Active Cues, a company founded by PhD researcher Hester Anderiesen, who’d been studying how to keep people in the mid-to-late stages of dementia active and reduce apathy. The console contains infrared sensors, a loudspeaker, a processor and a high-quality projector to project interactive games onto a table.
There are a multitude of games to choose from — from puzzles and whack-a-mole to brushing away leaves, popping bubbles, gardening and playing soccer — and they feature a variety of levels to support the different functioning capabilities of players.
While connecting with residents with dementia can be difficult, playing a game together can be easier — and more fun.
Stephanie Rodgers, recreation therapist at St. Teresa Place, has also seen the positive effects of the gaming system. “We have one resident who is legally blind, can see with peripheral vision only, and they were fully engaged and faster than everyone at whack-a-mole. We also have another resident who was not actively engaging in the games, but when we put on a music game, they started to sing along to the song that was playing.”
According to both recreation therapists, Tovertafel has strengthened their suite of tools for supporting residents. It has also prompted meaningful interaction between residents. Even residents without dementia enjoy playing with the gaming system.
“Tovertafel has helped to decrease some of the behaviours associated with dementia, such as wandering and agitation. It has also fostered socialization because residents can join together to participate in an activity at their leisure. There are also therapeutic benefits, since the games target physical, cognitive, social and emotional well-being,” says Stephanie.
“It’s very interesting to see how the residents with dementia interact with the virtual games,” says Kathleen. “They become so focused and amazed at the different reactions their movements cause. It also creates a calmness in the room, relaxation if you will. The residents smile and laugh while they play the different games. It brings a joy to the room.”
Staff have also enjoyed participating in game times. The laughter and escape have provided some relief during the pandemic.
“It’s a wonderful system,” says Kathleen. “It provides joy to residents.”
|A video demonstration of the Tovertafel whack-a-mole game
As published in Covenant Health’s The Vital Beat, April 29, 2021, written by Rosemary Malowany
To help us support residents with more leading-edge equipment like Tovertafel, please visit our donation page. Thank you for your support!