Best Practice Guidance
Human Interaction with Technology in Dementia

target groups: Developers of social robots

Evaluating the effectiveness of specific contemporary technology

The rapid growth of the technological landscape and related new services have the potential to improve the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of health and social services and facilitate social participation and engagement in activities. But which technology is effective and how is this evaluated best? This section provides recommendations to evaluate the effectiveness of technology in daily life, meaningful activities and healthcare services as well as of technologies aimed to promote the Social Health of people with dementia. Examples of useful technologies in some of these areas are provided.
Social Health Domain 3: Technology to promote social participation

More studies required to investigate the impacts of low-cost pet robots in dementia care

Guidance

Low-cost pet robots are a promising technology to improve the psychosocial health of people living with dementia. More high quality studies with sufficiently large sample sizes should be conducted to properly investigate their impacts.

Explanation and examples

Pet robots are a technology-based substitute to animal assisted therapy. However, the high costs of many pet robots can hinder the use of pet robots in dementia care. A scoping review was conducted to understand the impact of using lower-cost (more affordable) pet robots. Synthesised findings from nine studies suggested that low-cost pet robots improved the communication, social interactions and other health domains of older adults and people living with dementia. However, most studies had a small sample size and were of varying quality. Moving forward, more rigorous studies are necessary to investigate their impacts.

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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.

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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