Once upon a time there was…. the development of a serious game: Little Red Riding Hood

There are currently over 300.000 people in the Netherlands taking care of someone with dementia living at home. Half of them combine these caretaking responsibilities with a job and/or care for children. Becoming a caregiver often begins after the diagnosis of dementia has been made, and often a light case of dementia is already present at that time.

The goal of Little Red Riding Hood is to support “learning to live with dementia” after the diagnosis in a playful and safe manner, with the help of a serious game that can be played on the iPad or tablet. Key characters are Grandmother, Little Red Riding Hood, the lumberjack and of course the wolf. Without being childish, important decisions are presented in Grandmother’s little house in an environment that feels safe and familiar.

With Little Red Riding Hood we want to spark an organic conversation between caregivers and people with dementia in order to discuss difficult subjects without it causing direct conflicts in their personal situation. This conversation is about subjects such as taking care of oneself and living safely at home. Being aware of each other’s points of view on these important subjects can help to together find a new balance more quickly in a new situation with new care questions.

Need for support
When your partner or parent is diagnosed with dementia, a lot more changes than you might realize at first. A lot also remains the same. Slowly but surely, however, things do start to change. At times, this can demand a lot from you. The majority of all new caregivers has a need for some amount of support in dealing with this new situation. In Little Red Riding Hood, a serious game developed together with elderly and caregivers, a number of difficult subjects will be discussed in various subtle or in-depth ways. Inside the forest cabin, Little Red and Grandmother will be faced with activities that elderly themselves have chosen as the most important themes. The goal of Little Red is to, in a safe way in a familiar environment, give more insight into how life and interpersonal communication is affected by dementia. Additionally, through Little Red Riding Hood we want to hand caregivers tools they can use to, together with the person with dementia, face the future and anticipate what’s to come to the best of their abilities. In the development of Little Red there is close collaboration with elderly with and without dementia, with caregivers, dementia case managers, and with care professionals. The information is based on scientific insights stemming from previous research by the Universitair Centrum Ouderengeneeskunde (University Center for Geriatric Medicine).

We are currently in the second phase of Little Red Riding Hood. The definitive version of Little Red Riding Hood will be ready late 2017 and will be made available by the Stichting Effectieve Ouderenzorg (Effective Geriatric Care Foundation). We are currently looking for people with (light) dementia and their loved ones, who want to play the game and share their thoughts on it with us. With their experiences we can finalize the game.