Best Practice Guidance
Human Interaction with Technology in Dementia

themes: Caregivers

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

Consider using low-cost pet robots to support the psychosocial health of people living with dementia and their caregivers


Low-cost pet robots demonstrate the potential to positively impact the psychosocial health of people with dementia and their caregivers. Due to their lower cost, they may be more accessible and affordable and should therefore be considered for use in dementia care.

Explanation and examples

Although pet robots have demonstrated positive impacts on the wellbeing of people with dementia, their affordability can impede their uptake in dementia care. A scoping review, content analysis of consumer reviews and a qualitative study showed that the impacts of low-cost pet robots on people with dementia resembled the effects of other higher costed (but more advanced) pet robots. These included improved mood, companionship, increased activity engagement and reduced anxiety. Caregivers also experienced knock-on effects, such as feelings of joy and relief. Low-cost pet robots are more widely accessible to the public since they can be purchased off-the-shelf. While promising, findings of their positive impacts are subject to bias. More rigorous studies are necessary to confirm 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.
Technology for meaningful activities

Explore and consult with the eHealth context to facilitate implementation of eHealth interventions


To develop an eHealth intervention for caregivers of people with dementia that will be used in practice, developers should investigate the needs of the target population (people with dementia and their caregivers), and the needs of the people who will be implementing these interventions after a trial phase (such as case managers, hospital workers, volunteers or professionals associated with advocacy groups).

Explanation and examples

A systematic search was conducted into the implementation of studies including the terms ‘dementia’, ‘eHealth’, and ‘caregivers’. 2524 abstracts and 122 full texts were read, resulting in 46 studies meeting all criteria. Containing 204 statements on implementation. Most implementation statements could be grouped into 2 main themes: ‘Determinants associated with the eHealth intervention’ and ‘Determinants associated with the caregiver’. Very few statements were in the themes ‘Determinants associated with the implementing organization’ and ‘Determinants associated with the wider context’. Absence of knowledge on the contextual environment creates significant difficulties for health system planners and implementers who aim to translate these interventions into practice.

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Start making eHealth financing and business plans at the start of the development phase


To ensure that the eHealth interventions for caregivers of people with dementia will continue to be available, supported, updated and compatible with changing software and hardware requirements, financing and business plans should be developed from the beginning.

Explanation and examples

A mixed-methods study followed up on the 12 publications included in Boots et al.’s (2014) widely cited systematic review on eHealth interventions for informal caregivers of people with dementia, to explore implementation into practice. Publicly available online information, implementation readiness (ImpRess checklist scores), and survey responses were assessed. The majority of survey respondents identified commercialization and having a business plan as facilitators to implementation. There was little evidence for any of the 12 applications being put into practice.

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Social Health Domain 1: Fulfill ones potential and obligations

E-learning interventions, such as the iSupport-Sp, should be considered as alternative support services to reach caregivers of people with dementia living in remote areas, thus increasing service coverage


To provide informal caregivers of people with dementia living in remote areas with alternative support services, e-learning interventions can overcome some constraints of in-person services, such as costs and transport to the venues, and might increase the reach of services. However, these e-learning interventions should follow a set of recommendations tailored to the rural context in order to be effective.

Explanation and Examples:

E-learning interventions have proven effective in helping caregivers of people living with dementia, with benefits in terms of knowledge about dementia and social and emotional support. The most effective interventions are those with multiple psychotherapeutic components, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and relaxation exercises, educational resources, online peer support groups, and interaction with healthcare professionals.

However, for these interventions to be successful in a specific context, such as that of rural populations, a process of cultural adaptation, co-design and implementation is needed. For example, some of the concerns expressed by the focus groups in our qualitative study into the adaptive implementation of an online support programme for caregivers, iSupport-Spanish version, concerned the local availability of technological devices or internet access in rural areas. Some recommendations that resulted from the process of co-design and cultural adaptation were:

  1. make the platforms accessible through a personal link instead of a username and password;
  2. make the platforms available in public spaces for those without access to Wi-Fi or technological devices, e.g. community libraries, town halls, etc.;
  3. use a multiplatform format (e.g., computer, smartphone, tablets);
  4. make information available through audio and text (both modalities);
  5. include images and videos accompanying the text;
  6. offer the possibility to personalized letter size and background colours;
  7. avoid technical words (use simple language);
  8. offer feedback from healthcare professionals and support groups; and
  9. offer the information in slide format.

Support interventions for caregivers, such as the iSupport-Sp (available at, could improve their quality of life and the quality of care, reduce caregiver burden, improve care service delivery, and could help to cope with care responsibilities.

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Social Health Domain 3: Technology to promote social participation

Adaptive implementation processes are required to successfully implement psy-chosocial applications of technology in dementia care


To successfully implement psychosocial applications of technology in dementia care, it is recommended to carry out implementation processes adapted to the context of interest and to adapt training materials socio-culturally.


A qualitative study was performed to trace facilitators and barriers to implementing an evidence-based Dutch psychosocial support programme for people with dementia and carers with greater social integration and better cost-benefit ratio, the Meeting Centres Support Programme (MCSP), in Spanish-speaking countries. Among the potential barriers identified, the most relevant were associated with the lack of adapted training materials to the sociocultural context and the difference between urban and rural populations, particularly the access to populations living in remote areas.

It is therefore recommended that an implementation process be carried out that takes into account the characteristics of the region concerned, in addition to developing actions to overcome specific barriers, such as the creation of technological tools to offer the support programme remotely to provide access to the rural population. For example, as a result of this study, the ‘Introductory Online Course for the Implementation of Meeting Centres for People with Dementia and their Caregivers’ was developed and adapted for Spanish-speaking countries in the Spanish language (available at The course consists of eight modules setting out the theoretical background and practical implementation steps in the preparation, implementation and continuation phase.

Also, to offer an alternative to the face-to-face caregivers’ programme included in the MCSP, the iSupport-Sp, an evidence-based training and support programme for caregivers of people with dementia, was developed in an online e-learning format in the Spanish language (available at This platform aims to offer a support service for caregivers living in remote rural areas in Spain.

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