Best Practice Guidance
Human Interaction with Technology in Dementia

themes: Long-term support

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.
Technology for meaningful activities

Personalized feedback and sustained support for carers using the experience sampling method

Guidance

When using smartphone-based digital self-monitoring/experience sampling in carers of people with dementia, consider providing personalized feedback to promote emotional well-being and stimulate the undertaking of more activities they enjoy (e.g. relaxation activities).

Explanation and examples

‘Experience sampling’ (ESM)-based smartphone apps can offer solutions to raise awareness of enjoyable activities, strengthen learned coping strategies, and provide (long- term) support in everyday life. The ‘Partner in Sight’ intervention has been found to decrease perceived stress as well as negative affect, and to increase sense of competence in carers.

However, an increase in passive relaxation activities was only achieved with personalized feedback. Long-term support could be achieved by adding additional features, such as booster sessions, micro interventions (short version of the original intervention) or ad-hoc counseling after the main intervention period, through cost-effective and common technologies (smartphone apps, webpages, emails, telephones).

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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.
Social Health Domain 3: Technology to promote social participation

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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