How Do People with Dementia and Their Carers Make Assistive Technology Work for Them; Innovation, Personalisation and Bricolage

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Grant GIBSON, University of Stirling, United Kingdom
Claire DICKINSON, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Katie BRITTAIN, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Louise ROBINSON, Newcastle University, United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom Assistive technologies (AT) are being ‘mainstreamed’ within dementia care services. However little is known about the use of these technologies in everyday  care.  This presentation report on a study exploring the use of technology to provide dementia care in everyday practice.  Qualitative, semi structured interviews were carried out with 29 people with dementia and their carers, and were subjected to thematic analysis.  First the presentation details the scope and range of AT use in UK routine dementia care. A mixed care economy for technology exists within the UK, in which AT were used by people with dementia and their carers alongside everyday technologies in often innovative and novel ways in order to provide care.  In practice much of the everyday use of technology in dementia care could be characterised by ‘bricolage’ (Greenhalgh et al 2013); the non-conventional combination of devices in diverse ways often differing from their original design. From using sticky notes as signage to networking smartphones and tablets within bespoke telecare systems, AT were used in combination with non AT products to provide personalised forms of care.  Bricolage arrangements were driven by carers, in most cases with little assistance from formal care services.  Factors driving the bricolage based use of technology included the ability of carers to act as bricoleurs, a lack of awareness of AT and AT sources, difficulties in sourcing AT products, a lack of flexibility in AT systems and a failure of AT’s to address carer’s perceived needs.  While everyday use of AT among people with dementia can be characterised by bricolage, current design and delivery of products and services do not enable their use in this way.  the presentation concludes by discussing the implications of bricolage in the provision of technology based dementia care, and how services can be re-aligned to better reflect the everyday use of these technologies.