New research to look at how home tech can support those living with dementia

Experts at the University of Stirling are launching a new research project to find out how technology can better support residents in retirement living schemes and those living with long-term conditions such as dementia.

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The research brings together the expertise of Dr Jane Robertson, Dr Vikki McCall and Dr Grant Gibson from the Faculty of Social Sciences. The project INVITE (promoting inclusive living via technology-enabled support) is being funded by Longleigh Foundation and will investigate the success of assistive and everyday technologies in retirement living schemes and what further technologies might be required in the future.

Working in partnership with social housing provider, Stonewater, the research team, which also includes Stirling’s Dr Steve Rolfe, Research Fellow with expertise in housing, and Angela Pusram, Research Assistant with expertise in dementia, will work with Stonewater’s retirement communities and their families in three localities of England – Eastbourne, Hereford and Nottingham.

Dr Robertson said: “Technology-enabled support is a key goal of health and social care policies which seek to enable older people to remain independent within their own homes, or supported accommodation, for longer. But there can be a number of barriers to the mainstreaming of technologies, including a lack of co-production in the design of products with older people, poor awareness in both older people and staff, and limited staff training, all of which can lead to poor uptake, high rates of abandonment and lower levels of referral.

“Working hand in hand with Stonewater’s residents, frontline staff and other key stakeholders, we will examine how technologies are currently being used, how engagement with these could be increased and what new technologies or approaches could improve support in the retirement living schemes and ultimately enhance the health and wellbeing of those living there.”

Nicholas Harris, Chief Executive at Stonewater, said: “We are thrilled to be a partner in this exciting research project, which will help us improve and develop our support services for residents living in our retirement living schemes.

“The research will focus on ways to boost the physical and mental health, independence, recreational opportunities and connection to the natural world of our residents. Our aim is that by using such technology may not only give extra peace of mind to our residents’ families, but will benefit our wider communities by helping isolated individuals to get involved with social activities.”