Sue Yeandle BA (Hons), PhD, is Professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield (UK), where she is Director of CIRCLE (Centre for International Research on Care, Labour and Equalities). Sue is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Care and Caring, and Principal Investigator of the ESRC programme Sustainable Care: connecting people and systems (2017-2021). Her studies of care and technology include AKTIVE (Advancing Knowledge of Telecare for Independence and Vitality in Later Life) www.aktive.org.uk/publications.html, an academic-industry project completed in 2014.
Technology and networks of support: active ageing among older people with complex needs.
The use of technologies to better support older people with complex needs to age well has been acknowledged. Yet the use of technology in the aged care sector remains under-developed and fragmented, limiting the realisation of these potential benefits for individuals, service providers and systems more broadly. Thus an understanding of the benefits, challenges and impact of technology selection and use by older people and those supporting them becomes critical. In this presentation we overview the findings from three international studies conducted on this topic, focusing on how technologies affect networks of care and support. In the AKTIVE study, the use of personal alarms, monitors, and GPS devices by 60 older people living in their own homes in England was studied longitudinally (2012-14) for its impact on three network types: ‘complex’, ‘family-based’ and ‘privatised’. Findings from the linked SENSE study (2014-16), of 40 older people with sight and hearing impairments, revealed their need for a wider range of technologies, and how these were affected by their prior experience of assistive technologies and contributed to independence, activity and relationships. A subsequent scoping review of 14 international studies investigating the use of technology for improving everyday activities among older people with mild dementia found that the rationale for technology selection was unclear, there was limited involvement of older people in technology selection and tailoring of technologies to meet the needs of the older person was limited. This finding echoes aspects of the UK and Australian evidence base and other international literature and policy reviews. Drawing on our conclusions from these recent studies, we will also highlight current research now underway in the UK and Australia which is further developing our understanding of relevant risks and opportunities, and of the contribution technologies can make to sustainable care, to wellbeing outcomes for older people and those who assist in their care and to successful ageing in place.