Former Tomorrow’s World editor Michael Blakstad is a man on a mission, which he describes as “the last and most important in my life”.

Aimed primarily at care homes which are “woefully ill-equipped with broadband and resistant to new technologies”, Blakstad is proposing a ‘Walled Garden’ of media suited to residents with dementia and a ‘Juke Box’ which will make it much easier to select and play programmes than it is today on today’s TV sets.

Michael is 82 years old and has Parkinson’s which means he uses a wheelchair. His wife Tricia was diagnosed in 2018 with Alzheimer’s and they moved from East Meon to a retirement village in early 2020, just as Covid forced lockdown.

By July that year, Tricia’s dementia became too severe for Michael to look after her and she went into a care home. Regulations imposed 14 days’ isolation on anyone entering a home which he thought would be devastating for her, so he went with her on a three-week respite stay.

During that time, he was able to select music videos (her favourite was Michael Ball and Captain Tom’s ‘You’ll never walk alone’) and TV programmes, mainly from the 1970s & 80s.

Michael said: “Her eyes lit up, she sang along, she talked to Michael Ball as a long lost friend.

“After I left, the TV was never turned on, and although the care home provided as much live music as it could, she had no access to recordings.”

Between October that year and April 2021, Michael was interviewed regularly by R4’s Today programme about the effects on Tricia’s condition of the bans on visits and family contact imposed by the public health authorities.

He described how a digital picture frame, on which she might see family photos, had not been unpacked and nobody in the home knew how to install it.

On July 8, exactly two years after Tricia went into the care home, Michael held a seminar in Winchester which presented the case for a Walled Garden of media suited to residents with dementia which would have, he believes, slowed Tricia’s rapid decline.

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It featured research conducted over two decades by British universities into the beneficial effects for people with dementia of 'reminiscence' media which help them recollect their early adult years.

It also saw demonstrations of programmes and receivers which have been developed for people with dementia, including the BBC’s RemArc initiative to make available the world’s largest programme archive.

Also, care homes and pioneers that have introduced participation in choral singing, media edited for the residents and even virtual reality visors which transport residents to their favourite places or activities.

Michael said: “I am thrilled at the level of the contributors who accepted my invitation to attend the seminar, which I believe is the first to have been held on this subject.

"However, my resources, financial and physical, are reaching their end and we need action at the level of government, large technology and communications groups, and care homes to ensure that those who suffer from dementia in the future will not be deprived, as Tricia has been, of the potential of media tailored to their needs to provide moments of happiness and possibly even delay the progress of this ghastly pandementia.

“I’d like to build on on this in taking the next steps to make it a Winchester affair, trialling the new approach in a Winchester care home and involving the university in the creation of media ‘tailored’ to the needs of individual residents and researching and developing the programmes and their delivery. None of these is going to be easy to deliver at a time when care homes are under such pressure, and we also need to pressure government to support the sector and our initiative.”

Sir Muir Gray, doyen of national health scientific advisers and expert in ageing, said: "Michael is doing work of huge importance, and really understands how digital media and music can be therapeutic for both people with dementia and their carers."

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