A new study into how the of sense of touch can promote stimulation and emotional connection in dementia care is underway in the UK.

The project called ‘Hold’ is part of a collaboration between arts collection, Invisible Flock and a Community Integrated Care provider.

The six-month program, which began in August 2016, has seen artists and technology developers spend time with three residents who live with dementia, and important people in their lives including their family members and care staff.

The sense of touch is extremely important, particularly during old age. It is thought that physical interaction is linked to the emotional and motivational systems of the brain which can trigger memories and reduce agitation.

Through in-depth conversations and activity sessions they explored the different ways in which touch is personally important.

The results showed that nostalgic photographs and traditional items that residents could touch and interact with promoted the most stimulation and emotional connection.

The findings have been used to develop innovative technological prototypes that explore the sensory experiences of people living with dementia.

The initial prototype is a unique augmented photograph album that can have personal memorable photographs and videos digitally projected onto it.

Paula Spence, Community Integrated Care’s director of older people’s services, said reminiscence is fundamental to promoting the well being of people who live well with dementia.

“The people who live in our homes and their families were involved every step of the way, sharing their thoughts, memories and ideas and were delighted to see these brought to life in such an exciting way,” she said.

Community Integrated Care support thousands of people across England and Scotland who have learning disabilities, mental health concerns, autism and age-related needs, including dementia.

The findings will form part of an upcoming exhibition at the Foundation for Arts and Creative Technology in Liverpool.