Enhancing the independence of older adults with social media and smart home technologies


  • D. Whiddett
  • i. Hunter
  • C. Lockhart
  • P. Elers
  • H. Guesgen


Background: Like other developed countries, New Zealand is experiencing an ageing population, often with complex health problems, placing an unsustainable demand on healthcare services. The Ministry of Health has strongly directed a move to new models of care to support older people to remain in their community. Smart home technologies (sensors, recording devices, etc) can monitor and control the environment, track activities of daily living, and recognise significant departures from normal behaviour, enabling people to safely remain living in their homes. However, existing systems tend to support only one-to-one relationships. This paper presents findings from a project which is exploring the implications of, and stakeholder requirements for, integrating social media technologies and ‘smart home’ technologies to connect an older person with their formal support networks (i.e. to healthcare and social service providers) and informal support networks (i.e. to friends and family) thus enabling them to live independently at home. Methods: An expert group workshop to explore requirements of such a system was conducted with a range of professionals and academics working in the areas of healthcare and health informatics at the Health Informatics New Zealand (HINZ) 2016 annual conference. Findings: Thematic analysis of the discussions of the workshop identified three major concerns: 1. The complexity of the changing roles and responses, 2. The complexity of the flows and the interpretation of information and 3. Emergent issues of management and control. The findings emphasise the need to gain a clear understanding of the perspectives of all stakeholders before undertaking technical design.





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