Best Practice Guidance
Human Interaction with Technology in Dementia

Recommendations

Implementation of technology in dementia care: facilitators & barriers

Successful implementation of technology in dementia care depends not merely on its effectiveness but also on other facilitating or impeding factors related to e.g. the personal living environment (privacy, autonomy and obtrusiveness); the outside world (stigma and human contact); design (personalisability, affordability and safety), and ethics on these subjects.  This section provides recommendations on the implementation of technology in everyday life, for meaningful activities, healthcare technology and technology promoting Social Health.

Social Health Domain 3: Technology to promote social participation

Make sure social robots work well with residents and consider practical challenges when implementing social robots in nursing homes

Guidance

Understanding how social robots positively impact nursing home residents as well as analysing practical challenges are important when implementing robotic assistive technology in nursing homes

Explanation and examples

An important facilitating factor to the acceptance of social robots in nursing homes is understanding and seeing how social robots positively impact residents, for example by improving the communication, decreasing loneliness, providing joy to residents, calming agitated residents or generally increasing their wellbeing. Understanding these benefits will facilitate the acceptance of social robots by staff as well as by relatives, but is also important for the resident to accept the social robot, as their acceptance will be influenced by the views and attitudes of staff and relatives.

On the other hand, one of the key hindering factors to the acceptance of social robots in nursing homes are practicalities of everyday life in the nursing home, such as storage, hygiene, finding a quiet place, scheduling time for robot use or the need to charge the robot.

We conclude, that applying an acceptance model of social robots (here the Almere Model) is an interesting and feasible way to trace facilitators and barriers of implementation of social technology in nursing homes, where involvement in social activities and enhancing positive experiences are important foci of interventions to improve social health.

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Consider different contextual factors to implement social robots in dementia care

Guidance

Technology developers and researchers should be aware of the different contextual factors that can affect the translation of research on social robots to real-world use.

Explanation and examples

Barriers and facilitators affecting the implementation of social robots can occur at different levels. For example, they relate to the social robots’ features, or relate to organisational factors or external policies. A scoping review was conducted to understand the barriers and facilitators to the implementation of social robots for older adults and people living with dementia. 53 studies were included in this review. Most existing studies have disproportionately focused on understanding barriers and facilitators relating to the social robots, such as their ease of use. However, there is significantly less research that has been conducted to understand organisational factors or wider contextual factors that can affect their implementation in real-world practice. Future research should pay more attention to investigating the contextual factors, using an implementation framework, to identify barriers and facilitators on different levels to guide the further implementation of social robots.

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Loneliness should be included in future technology intervention studies as an outcome in order to study the effect of active assisted living (AAL) technologies on loneliness of people with dementia in long-term care

Guidance

Implementing assistive technology could be promising in long-term care to address loneliness in dementia, but further studies are needed to tailor assistive technology to people living with dementia in different care settings and to investigate its effect on loneliness.

Explanation and examples

Active & Assisted Living (AAL) technology aims to support coping with the consequences of dementia. A scoping review was conducted to learn if and how AAL addresses loneliness in people living with dementia in long-term care. Although, only one study focused directly on the impact of AAL technology on loneliness, findings suggest that AAL were used in the context of psychosocial interventions and proved to have had an impact on loneliness in people living with dementia. It remains unclear why loneliness was almost never included as an outcome in technology studies. Since we were not able to derive clear effects of assistive technology on loneliness from the included studies, we recommend using loneliness outcome measures in future intervention studies into AAL technology.

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