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AGEING AND TECHNOLOGIES. Creating a vision of care in times of digitisation. A paper for policymakers

  • The global population is ageing, and with it the demand for health and social care. However, the number of people working in the sector is not keeping pace with the change, and the people who have traditionally provided informal and voluntary care are under increasing pressure. This growing gap between need and resources presents a challenge to countries in Europe and beyond, and all are seeking care and support arrangements that are better adapted and prepared for the future. This policy paper is one outcome from a project which investigated these issues across a range of European countries. There is evidence from research and practice that technology can help to meet the challenge. However, it is still rare to find good matches between the technology and needs, and many potentially useful technical solutions do not find their way to those who could benefit. The reasons for success or failure of technologies in care are comparable if not the same in the participating countries. Expectations are often unrealistic; the range of products and services is too complex and diverse for people to have a clear overview; appropriate infrastructure (and especially broadband coverage) is often inadequate; and research and development projects sometimes focus more on “selling” a technology than understanding what care recipients and carers might need or prefer. There is a clear need for better information for users on the options, their costs and benefits, and there is also relatively little accessible research into the level and nature of technology use and its social impact. The key recommendations are A vision of good later life: Developments in technology and caring need to be seen in the context of a vision of good later life, as understood by those who receive care and those who provide it, and in a framework of human rights. This matters because while it is clear that technology can play an important part in improving the quality of life of older people, technological interests are sometimes prioritised over client needs. Policy coordination: Governments should aim for better coordination of public policymaking. This should include not only the most obvious Departments – health and social care services - but also digital services, housing, transport, employment, vocational training and others. This matters because technological development is taking place on a piecemeal basis, and relevant government Departments and agencies are not always involved or coordinated. This leads to inefficient use of resources. Consumer information: A service or agency is needed, ideally at European level, to undertake independent evaluation of the technologies and tools available, and use that to provide information in appropriate forms to government, organisations providing care, carers and older people themselves. This matters because although a great deal of relevant creative technological innovation is taking place in Europe, and it is difficult to establish what is available, what works, in what circumstances, for what groups of older people and at what cost. As a result, governments, care providers and older people themselves, risk making poor investment decisions, in the development of tools and their purchase, delivery and use. Digital literacy: Governments should ensure that appropriate education is available to enable older people and their carers to confidently make use of the technologies available. This matters because older people are the least likely group to have developed digital skills, although their quality of life, and the efficient use of the services available, will increasingly depend on confident use of technologies. Carers must be included because, while they can be valuable in supporting older people in the use of technologies, they can also be a barrier when they lack the necessary digital skills themselves.

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Author:Anne Meißner, Stephen McNair
Document Type:Report
Date of Publication (online):2021/06/04
Publishing Institution:Universitätsverlag Hildesheim
Release Date:2021/06/04
Page Number:22
2. Auflage von https://doi.org/10.25528/060
DDC classes:600 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 610 Medizin, Gesundheit
300 Sozialwissenschaften / 300 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie, Anthropologie / 305 Soziale Gruppen
600 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 600 Technik / 604 Spezielle Themen
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0