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Telecare and older people's social relations: AKTIVE working paper 3

Author(s)

KOIVUNEN Emma-Reetta

Publisher(s):

University of Leeds. Centre for International Research on Care, Labour and Equal

This paper focuses on the social relationships in the everyday lives of participants in the AKTIVE study and considers how telecare fits into these. Focusing on older people living at home with different types of frailty, the AKTIVE project aimed both to enhance understanding of how they (and those supporting them) accessed, engaged with and used the telecare equipment supplied to them, and to explore the consequences for them of doing so. This paper examines types of relationships and how these change, with a focus on being cared for and on the loneliness which many participants experienced. After discussing these aspects, the paper explores how telecare fitted into these relationships, assesses the extent to which social relations support or hinder telecare use, and discusses research participants’ experiences of this. The paper addresses three of the AKTIVE project’s research questions, adding to knowledge of: the characteristics of older people who use telecare and the contexts in which they do so; how telecare is used and affects those involved; and barriers to the adoption of telecare. In examining older people’s social relationships and how telecare fits into and affects these, the paper builds on sociological research on the use of technology, much of which has focused on information and communication technologies (ICTs). The paper explores new data collected through Everyday Life Analysis (ELA), a methodology using ethnographic observations and interviews with older people over a period of six to nine months. Research participants were supported to create maps of their social relations to help identify the people who supported them, who were also interviewed or observed wherever possible. (Edited publisher abstract)

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