Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Experiences of Extra Care Housing Residents Aged Fifty-Five and over with Home-Based Technology

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Experiences of Extra Care Housing Residents Aged Fifty-Five and over with Home-Based Technology

Article excerpt

In the United Kingdom, Australia, and European Union countries, particularly Spain and Scandinavia, policies for older people are focused on a vision of active aging and independent living. By providing modern and person-centered services to meet their needs, and by supporting their carers, people are helped to live in the community for as long as possible. One component of an effective policy on active aging and independent living is the provision of appropriately built environments that take the special needs of aging people into consideration (Curry, Tinoco, & Wardle, 2002). A new model, extra care housing (ECH), is a form of housing-plus-care that provides appropriate accommodation. It enables independent living in the community with the support of 24-hour onsite care (Wojgani & Hanson, 2007). ECH has no single, universally accepted definition and indeed its use is presently restricted to the UK. Equivalent terms in North America and Australia are "housing with care" and "assisted living" (Dutton & the Housing Dementia Research Consortium, 2009).

Despite the general assumption that aging people benefit from whatever type of technology is available to them (Grauel & Spellerberg, 2008), the evidence available at present is very general and does not inform researchers about the use or nonuse of technology, users' needs and fears, or various aspects of quality of life. In addition, until now it has not been clear which technological devices are available for older adults nor which are acceptable to them (Grauel & Spellerberg, 2008). This lack of knowledge severely limits the ability of policy makers to make informed decisions regarding adequate and appropriate regulation, and the provision of HBT devices in ECH schemes. In this study we addressed this knowledge gap by researching a group of people aged 55 and over who were living in ECH accommodation. The availability of devices in the ECH schemes and residents' awareness of the availability of the devices, attitudes towards technology, relative use and nonuse of devices, and barriers influencing the use of HBT devices were investigated.

In this study the relative nonuse of a device was defined as the people who own a device but do not use it.

Method

Sampling

Based on purposive sampling and to include schemes of different sizes, type (new build, remodeled, private, public) and location, 35 ECH schemes were chosen from the Elderly Accommodation Council's 2008 directory. Potential participants were considered ineligible if they had severe cognitive impairment or were too frail to undertake the survey. The recruited sample of 160 older people aged 55 and over were all living in units or in apartments, 23 ECH schemes located across England.

Questionnaire Design and Data Collection

A quantitatively designed and structured questionnaire was developed for this study. Face-to-face interviews were conducted between March and December, 2009, in the participants' living units or apartments. In order to assess awareness of assistive devices, every device was presented to the respondents visually by using cue cards. Attitudes toward HBT devices, the use of household technologies, and the factors affecting their use were investigated.

Data Analysis Strategies

In this study, HBT devices were categorized into two main types. Firstly, basic devices including kitchen appliances (microwave ovens, electric kettles, toasters, electric hobs, washing machines), and lifts (elevators). Secondly, assistive technology such as personal computers, assisted-bathing facilities, electric window openers, emergency call systems, property exit sensors, automatic temperature thermostats, telehealth facilities, and closed-circuit television (CCTV), via which images of the corridor outside their front door are available to residents through their televisions.

SPSS version 16 was used for turning data into numbers, coding data for analysis, recoding and reweighting data, ranking of ordinal data, using descriptive statistics, and developing contingency tables. …

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