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Title: Window to the outside world : designing a new technology to supplement opportunities for community engagement of older adults in rural NE Scotland
Author: Dowds, Gillian L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 1926
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2016
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Rural areas are particularly affected by demographic ageing. In later life, the likelihood of living with chronic, manageable, physical conditions increases, affecting the ability to get out and about and be involved with the community. New digital technologies offer novel opportunities for overcoming physical barriers associated with engagement with others, which, amongst other benefits, can enhance wellbeing. These technologies may benefit all age groups in all types of community but could be of particular value in rural areas, which are characterised with dispersed settlement structures, accessibility restrictions and out-migration of family members and in-migration of new residents. The aim of this PhD project was to explore the potential benefits of digital technology, specifically designed for largely housebound older adults in rural North East Scotland, to enhance the sense of involvement they have with the local community. In this multi-methods project, sixteen interviews were conducted with largely housebound older adults living across North East Scotland, the majority in remote and accessible rural areas, to investigate how technology could enhance the sense of involvement older adults could have with their local community. These interviews, along with findings from two focus groups carried out with older adults, were used iteratively to inform the overall concept of the technology, followed by the design and development of a technology prototype. The prototype, entitled Window to the Outside World, was then evaluated with ten interviewees to explore whether live-streaming of local events could potentially enhance the sense of involvement one had with their local community, for those who were largely housebound in rural areas. The findings indicated that digital technologies, such as Window to the Outside World, carry much potential to provide supplementary avenues for increasing one's sense of involvement in the community for largely housebound older adults. There is scope to investigate whether use of such a technology could bring both individual and community-wide benefits for wellbeing, through increased opportunities for identity continuity, imaginative mobility as well as those gained from adopting a purely spectator role, and potential therapeutic benefits from the content of the footage. There is potential to develop the technology further to make it fit to their needs even more effectively.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: RCUK Digital Economy Theme
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Older people ; Social participation ; Technological innovations