Personalisation, customisation and bricolage: how people with dementia and their families make assistive technology work for them
GIBSON Grant, et al
Assistive technologies (ATs) are being ‘mainstreamed’ within dementia care, where they are promoted as enabling people with dementia to age in place alongside delivering greater efficiencies in care. AT provision focuses upon standardised solutions, with little known about how ATs are used by people with dementia and their carers within everyday practice. This paper explores how people with dementia and carers use technologies in order to manage care. Findings are reported from qualitative semi-structured interviews with 13 people with dementia and 26 family carers. Readily available household technologies were used in conjunction with and instead of AT to address diverse needs, replicating AT functions when doing so. Successful technology use was characterised by ‘bricolage’ or the non-conventional use of tools or methods to address local needs. Carers drove AT use by engaging creatively with both assistive and everyday technologies, however, carers were not routinely supported in their creative engagements with technology by statutory health or social care services, making bricolage a potentially frustrating and wasteful process. Bricolage provides a useful framework to understand how technologies are used in the everyday practice of dementia care, and how technology use can be supported within care. Rather than implementing standardised AT solutions, AT services and AT design in future should focus on how technologies can support more personalised, adaptive forms of care.