A Dutch invention, Tovertafel translates to ‘magic table’ in English. It’s not actually a table at all; it’s a little box which can be mounted on the ceiling, providing a projection down to whatever surface is beneath it. As we’ve just invested in a Tovertafel for the enjoyment of our residents, we wanted to share a little bit about it with you.

What is the Tovertafel?
Tovertafel is essentially a ceiling-based projector, which shines multicoloured lights onto the surface below, usually a table. People can sit around the table and play with the lights, which respond to their movements and touch.

Games range from bouncing a beach ball across the table to helping flowers grow or chasing fish around a pool. Developed in the Netherlands, the Tovertafel has already been trialled in many care homes in the Benelux countries, to great success.

How was Tovertafel developed?
The developer wanted to create something which would reach out to those with mid to late stage dementia, giving their families a means of communication and engagement. All too many families spend the final months or even years with no means of interaction with their loved ones.

The Tovertafel breaks down these boundaries, giving those living with dementia an outlet. The design of the games is such that it doesn’t require any initiative from the participants. Instead, the energising, attention grabbing light invites them to play.

The research behind this product established that, even in the late stages of dementia, people can still experience the three main outcomes of play: Relaxation, sensation and reminiscence. The games that the designers have added to the Tovertafel so far are all tuned to elicit all three. There are no rules, there’s no way to ‘go wrong’ with the games and everyone can celebrate their abilities

How can the Tovertafel help people living with dementia?
The Tovertafel has been created to encourage play, even when mental barriers need to be overcome. Some of the benefits to people living with dementia include:

· Independent play: The simplicity of the games lend themselves perfectly to letting older people play independently, without requiring a care assistant’s supervision

· Physical activity: The games require moderate reaching, stretching and movement, encouraging physical activity in even the most reluctant of participants

· Interactions: Playing with the Tovertafel encourages valuable interactions with other residents, staff and visitors

· Suits all levels: The games can be tailored to suit people of varying abilities, making it a valuable asset for all residents

· No right or wrong: There is no failure here. If they don’t bounce the beach ball back, it simply bounces off the edge of the table. Everyone has a chance to shine and to be proud of what they can do.

We’re really excited to introduce Tovertafel in our homes and have installed them in both Blenheim House and Fernhill house for the benefit of our residents.

How will we use Tovertafel?
We’re hoping to design activities around the Tovertafel, as well as to simply allow residents free play with the device. Although designed for those in mid to late stage dementia, we’re sure that other residents will enjoy it too, and that it will stimulate valuable interactions between all of our residents.

We hope that when you come to visit, as well as younger members of the family, that you will have a play with our Tovertafel too. We’re thrilled to see how this new investment helps encourage engagement with residents, so do pop in and see what it’s all about!

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