Proposal for Pervasive Elderly Care: A Case Study With Next of Kin

Proposal for Pervasive Elderly Care: A Case Study With Next of Kin

Hanna-Leena Huttunen (University of Oulu, Finland), Raija Halonen (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland & University of Oulu, Finland) and Simon Klakegg (University of Oulu, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1371-2.ch004
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Abstract

This chapter reports how interaction between family members and caregivers as perceived by family members could be improved via context-aware, imperceptible internet of things (IoT)-based solutions. The qualitative study focused on investigating experiences of the family members and the communication between caretakers in sheltered accommodation. Interviews including both open and closed questions revealed that there is high need for improving the communication, adding to the sparse earlier knowledge. The study revealed that the family members were willing to adopt an application to improve the communication that currently was experienced as too limited and vague. The results provide a fruitful base for further actions to improve communication between family members and professional caretakers.
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Background

Elderly in Sheltered Accommodation

The proportion of aging populations is growing worldwide, and explosive growth is expected to continue (Medjahed et al., 2011). When supporting the elderly to maintain their independence and quality of life, the role of family is crucial. However, the next of kin can experience too heavy a burden in caring for their elderly and continuing their lives (Hainstock et al., 2017). Sheltered accommodation and treatment costs are rising, and illness is more prominent, requiring additional resources for nursing staff (Alam et al., 2012). Studies show that the life of the elderly is more meaningful in nursing homes than in an institutional care facility (Nikmat et al., 2015; Tuominen et al., 2016). In the nursing home, the elderly can have their own rooms and live in their own apartments surrounded by their own belongings. Nursing staff is available 24/7 (Coelho et al., 2015); however, with an increasing number of residents, so does the workload of nursing staff increase, thus weakening the premise of better care of patients, mostly due to efficiency bottlenecks (Huttunen et al., 2018). Intelligent care systems provide many opportunities to overcome such challenges, and elderly well-being, health and functional ability have been shown to improve with wearable sensors and personal area networks (PAN) (Wong et al., 2017).

It is natural for the nursing staff to recognise the limitations of older people’s ability to perform daily tasks, thus empowering them to provide high-quality care for the elderly. Guiding and providing information to family members are among the duties of a nurse, and the role of the family in service systems is also very important. Studies show that it is important to encourage and support relatives to interact with the elderly and nursing staff (Andersen, 1995; Doty, 1986).

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