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The promise of assistive technology in institutionalized old age care: economic efficiency, improved working conditions, and better quality of care?

Authors
  • Siren, Anu1
  • Amilon, Anna1
  • Larsen, Gabriela K1
  • Mehlsen, Line1
  • 1 VIVE - the Danish Center for Social Science Research, Copenhagen, Denmark. , (Denmark)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Disability and rehabilitation. Assistive technology
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2021
Volume
16
Issue
5
Pages
483–489
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1080/17483107.2019.1659862
PMID: 31486702
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Assistive technologies in care work are expected to alleviate the challenges related to population aging, namely the pressure on public budgets and a shortage of care professionals. This study examines how various stakeholders view the potentials of assistive technology in an institutionalized care setting in Denmark. Using ethnographic field observations, interviews, and document analysis, we explore the residents', the staff's, and the municipality's perspectives on the technologies and analyze whether they live up to the stated expectations. We identify three parallel narratives representing each of the stakeholder's perspectives. The municipality's triple-win narrative emphasizes expected gains in terms of efficiency, improved working conditions, and better quality of care. The staff's ambiguity narrative contains both negative views regarding the motive for using technologies to save resources and positive accounts of how technologies have reduced work-related pain. The residents' limited agency narrative reflects an internalization of the staff's perspectives. We conclude that, despite both the staff and the municipality highlighting the residents' well-being and comfort as important outcomes of assistive technologies, the residents' wishes have limited influence on whether and, if so, how assistive technologies are used.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONDifferent stakeholders' views on assistive technology vary and are closely connected to their respective institutional interests and roles. These perspectives are important for a successful implementation of assistive technologies.Understanding the positions of staff and older care recipients, and differentiating between their respective perspectives can help both scholars and product developers understand the potentials and risks of AT in a more nuanced way.

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