Improving social participation in dementia with the Geographic Information system-based intervention ‘Viamigo’

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Netherlands Netherlands Maastricht University

Early Stage Researcher (ESR11)

Pascale Heins

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Prof. Frans Verhey

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Prof. Marjolein de Vugt

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Pascale Heins graduated in Occupational Therapy (2016) at the Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in Heerlen, the Netherlands. Afterwards, she attained a master’s degree in Health Assisting Engineering (2019) at the FH Campus Wien in Vienna, Austria. During this academic experience, she learned to develop healthcare innovations in interdisciplinary collaboration with other healthcare professionals and technicians. Additionally, she gained clinical experience as an occupational therapist in enhancing autonomy and well-being of elderly people with dementia and research experience as an intern at the Research Centre for Assistive Technology in Care (Heerlen, the Netherlands).

She is aiming to increase the autonomy and quality of life of people with dementia through the development of new, and the enhancement of existing, healthcare technologies. Her research interests include dementia, quality of life, assistive technology and social robots.

Start date October 2019
Duration 36 months


  1. to provide insight into the barriers and facilitators of social participation in dementia;
  2. to improve social participation of people with dementia with the Geographic Information System (GIS)-based intervention ‘Viamigo’.

People with dementia commonly suffer from spatial disorientation, leading to a decrease in meaningful outdoor activities and social interactions, and a decline in independence. ‘Viamigo’ teaches people with dementia a known individual route, to accomplish independently while being monitored in real-time from a distance by a personal coach (eg family carer). A literature review will gain insight into the evidence on factors that can influence social participation of people with dementia, and a qualitative focus group study to examine perspectives of people with dementia and their informal caregivers on barriers and facilitators of social participation in dementia. Objective 2 will be addressed by a pilot study on the feasibility and effect of ‘Viamigo’ to support the independent outdoor mobility of people with dementia and reduce caregiver burden.

Expected Results

A systematic literature review is expected to give insight in the effects of technological interventions that aim at enhancing social participation in community-dwelling older adults with and without dementia, and to identify factors of these technological interventions that are barriers or facilitators to social participation of community-dwelling older adults with and without dementia.

The focus groups will reveal important information on beliefs, attitudes, and subjective experiences of people with dementia and their informal caregivers with regard to participation in social activities in general and specifically when travelling outdoors; in order to identify barriers and facilitators of social participation.

An evaluation of ‘Viamigo’ for usability, acceptability, and effectiveness for people with dementia and their caregivers is expected to lead to increased out-home mobility, participation in social activities, confidence of the person with dementia to travel independently, and a higher quality of life the person with dementia and caregiver.

Results will be used to adapt the application if necessary for future implementation.

Planned secondment(s)

Two for 3 months each. The first in year one with KI-SE to learn about how people with dementia relate to technology and the potential barriers and discrepancies faced by people with dementia dealing with technology and the second at Silverfit a technology partner that has broad experience with innovative technology in everyday life.



Pascale Heins, Lizzy M.M. Boots, An Neven, Frans R.J. Verhey, Marjolein E. de Vugt. The effects of technology-based interventions on social participation of community-dwelling older adults with and without dementia: a systematic review. PROSPERO 2020 CRD42020206654 Available from: here.


Heins, P.; Boots, L.M.M.; Koh, W.Q.; Neven, A.; Verhey, F.R.J.; de Vugt, M.E. The Effects of Technological Interventions on Social Participation of Community-Dwelling Older Adults with and without Dementia: A Systematic Review. J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10, 2308.