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KESS Seminar – Using Technology in Social Care

14th March 2018 @ 1:30 pm - 3:20 pm

democratic audit Northern ireland

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome and Opening Remarks

1.45pm – Prof Shailey Minocha and Dr Ana-Despina Tudor (OU) – Role of digital health wearables in the well-being and quality of life of older people and carers
The number of adults aged 65 and over has increased by 2% across Europe in the past 15 years, and in Northern Ireland by 22% between 2003-2013. The proportion of the population in this age group is projected to increase by 63% to just under 0.5 million by 2033 – which will be a quarter of the population in Northern Ireland. Given Northern Ireland’s Active Ageing Strategy (2015-2021), there is an increasing focus on encouraging physical activity as we get older to preserve mobility and motor skills, and to enjoy the benefits of living longer and to minimise health problems associated with ageing. Over the last two years, we have been investigating the role of wearable activity tracking technologies in self-monitoring of activity by people aged over 55. Example technologies include activity trackers from Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung, and smart watches. Typically, these devices record steps walked, sleep patterns, calories expended and heart rate.

Based on empirical investigations, this presentation describes the benefits of activity monitors for people aged over 55 for self-monitoring of physical activity, for adopting healthy lifestyles, and for increasing or maintaining physical activity as a way to avoid high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and other medical conditions associated with weight or lower physical activity. It outlines the role of activity trackers in post-operative monitoring of mobility during rehabilitation, in caring, and for possible use of the data for diagnosis and medical interventions. It then discusses the challenges for adoption of these technologies, given currently, off-the-shelf devices are designed and calibrated for use by physically fit (typically young active people) with unrealistic fitness targets for the older generation.
2.05pm – Dr Hannah R. Marston (OU), Dr Shannon Freeman (University of Northern British Columbia, Canada), Dr Rebecca Genoe (University of Regina, Canada), Dr Cory Kulcyzki (University of Regina, Canada) and Dr Charles Musselwhite (Swansea University) – The Cohesiveness of Technology in Later Life: Findings from the Technology In Later Life (TILL) Project
Statistics show Northern Ireland (NI) ageing population (65+ years) has increased between 1974 (11.2%) to 2014 (15.5%). Estimated projections suggest this will reach 24.7% by 2039. Currently, 35,500 people are aged 85+ years, 12,200 (90-99 years) and it is estimated there are 280 centenarians (NISRA, 2016). The use and deployment of technology can assist in social connectedness reducing isolation, online shopping/bills, information acquisition, physical activity and maintaining intergenerational relationships. Between 2014/15, 69% of adults (60-69 years) had access to the Internet, unlike 40% of adults aged 70+ years; moreover, 82% of adults 60+ years owned a mobile phone. Understanding how technology can play an integral role in the lives of older adults has demonstrated the positive perceptions and behaviour to independent living. Literature, focusing on adults aged >70 years living in rural and urban areas, relating to technology use, behaviour and perception is limited.

This presentation concerns the international, multi-centred Technology In Later Life (TILL) study derived from the paucity of literature and studies focusing on technology use and behaviour by adults aged >70 years, employed a multi-methods approach. Its findings suggest participants were open to using and accessing different types of digital devices and technologies to enhance wellbeing and social connectedness which included sharing information with family members, communicating with grand/children living long distance and communicating news via the community. Its recommendations propose reducing privacy issues; while providing practical approaches and insights to technology use by older adults. The presentation adds to the paucity of work in the area of technology use in later life and could inform NI policy makers, health/NHS, communities, families and support networks, helping them to understand the barriers and enablers to technology use in later life. It also highlights that further work is needed to explore perceptual and behavioural concepts across these groups, to ensure ageing populations are confident in integrating technology into their lives.
2.25pm – Dr Verina Waights (OU), Prof Panos Bamidis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece) and Ms Rosa Almeida (Fundacion Intras, Spain) – Technologies for care – the imperative for upskilling carers 

Ageing populations, coupled with increasing retirement ages and lower ratios of workers to retirees, are negatively impacting health and social care. Currently, 11.8% of Northern Ireland (NI) residents are carers, but it is predicted that by 2025 the number of people aged over 65 will increase by 42%, with the number of people aged over 80 doubling by 2027.  These projections place increasing demands on carers, especially when considered within the ‘changing ethos of health care in NI’ towards a self-management model. Carers increasingly use the internet to find health information, yet worldwide a significant number of people lack health literacy skills and/or digital skills. The EU-funded DISCOVER project involved over 650 carers, care workers and stakeholders in co-designing and co-producing an online learning platform to enhance carers’ and care workers’ health literacy, digital skills and caring skills. Engaging with DISCOVER also enabled carers to share concerns and supportive practices with other carers to help reduce social isolation. This presentation draws on research undertaken for this project and makes recommendations highlighting to policy makers, health care professionals, care agencies and technologists how the lives of carers, care workers and care–recipients could be enhanced in terms of improving their quality of life and reducing their social isolation.

2.45pm – Discussion 
3.15pm – RaISe – Closing Remarks
3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments

Tea/coffee is provided following presentations and discussion. Free parking is available to all. Kindly allow time to pass through Assembly Security upon entry to Parliament Buildings; and ensure that you specify your special needs (for example, wheelchair accessibility) when registering. The Assembly is committed to fulfilling its equality-related roles and responsibilities and will take reasonable efforts to meet requests relating to them.

To view the programme, please refer to: https://kess.org.uk/series-7/

If you wish to reserve your place at a seminar, please register at: https://kess.org.uk/register/



14th March 2018
1:30 pm - 3:20 pm
Event Category:


Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS)


Long Gallery
Parliament Buildings, Stormont
Belfast, BT4 3XX United Kingdom
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