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Unpaid carers of people with dementia and ICT: use, impact and ideas for the future

Damant, Jacqueline, Freddolino, P., Dangoor, Margaret, Hu, Bo, King, Derek ORCID: 0000-0002-2408-4558 and Wittenberg, Raphael ORCID: 0000-0003-3096-2721 (2024) Unpaid carers of people with dementia and ICT: use, impact and ideas for the future. Dementia. ISSN 1471-3012 (In Press)

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Objectives: Several 100,000s of people living with dementia in the UK are cared for at home by a spouse or relative. Few studies have considered the ICT needs and experiences of unpaid carers. This study explores the types of ICT unpaid carers use, the ways they use ICT, the impact of ICT-use, and their ideas for how ICT could be more supportive of their role as a carer. Methods: Six focus groups with 32 unpaid carers of people living with dementia discussed their experiences of – and barriers to – using ICT. Transcripts were analysed thematically according to three types of ICT (mainstream, accessible and formal) and five functions (supporting domestic tasks, care management, monitoring, communication and information and education). Results: Participants predominantly used mainstream ICT devices such as laptops and smartphones and internet-enabled applications including videoconferencing and social media platforms to support their daily activities and assist them in their caring role. A few participants discussed using accessible devices such as memory clocks and formal telecare and care-phone services for care management and monitoring functions. Participants’ ideas for improvements centred on personalised communication applications that facilitate remote interactions and promote persons living with dementia’s independence. Others expressed concerns about the growing need to use ICT to access formal care services and the inadequacy of the ICT infrastructure in some care homes. Conclusions: Unpaid carers mostly turn to readily available mainstream ICT to support their personal and care activities. Further research is required to understand the social impact of the increasing reliance of ICT across health, social and residential care service sectors. Improved cooperation between unpaid carers, technology developers and care services providers could align ICT development to the needs and experiences of families living with dementia and assist unpaid carers with identifying ICTs that optimally support their personal circumstances.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author(s)
Divisions: Personal Social Services Research Unit
Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2024 15:21
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 04:22

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