Co-Designing an Information and Support Platform for Elderly, Informal Caregivers

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Marén SCHORCH, University of Siegen, Germany
An accompanying effect of the ageing of the population worldwide is the increasing proportion of elderly people suffering from chronic illnesses like dementia or Parkinson’s disease. In Germany, most of the care is practiced at home (Federal Statistical Office for Germany. Care Statistics 2013). Informal caregivers – the key actors of caregiving at home – are normally of older age too, may also have declining physical and mental capacity and are often under constant stress due to the 24/7-care situation. The research I conducted here deals with ICT development for this setting of domestic care using the example of 12 households in a rural area in Germany. It is within the scope of an interdisciplinary EU research project of sociologists, information scientists and practitioners (acronym: TOPIC, run time: 2013-2016). The overall aim of this qualitative project is to co-design and develop a web-based support platform for and with elderly, informal caregivers integrating requested services such as information provision about diseases and caregiving, exchange options (fostering communication and networking) and the coordination of care. This presentation will be based on data analysis from the intertwining three parts of my work: 1) ethnography in five households in Germany (participant observation over eight months, interviews and cultural probes) with inside perspectives about the everyday life of informal caregivers (average of age: 69 years), 2) the phase of introducing tablet-PCs to our participants and of teaching how to us them over five months as well as 3) experiences from the design process of the prototype of the platform that is currently in the phase of long-run field study. This contribution will underline the rationales for co-designing new ICT for this special and growing group of elderly caregivers and share experiences from empirical work in this field over the last two years.