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Title: Technology, care and a sense of home : understanding older people's domestication of Telecare
Author: Brintazzoli, Gigliola
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 1030
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2018
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Ageing in Place and Telecare solutions are being proposed by policymakers as solutions to the ageing population and the increased demands for care as people live longer, often with chronic health conditions. Research and policy tend to draw attention to the economic benefits of Telecare for older people and society in general, with a much smaller, but significant, body of qualitative research now addressing the more experiential aspects of Telecare. This quasi-ethnographic study involved undertaking semi-structured interviews, opportunistic conversations and observations of sixteen older Telecare users over a period of six months and has sought to understand the process by which older people came to acquire and use Telecare and how their experiences of using Telecare has changed the experience of, and meanings associated with, ‘home’ and ‘care’, in particular. The study is situated at the intersection of studies of care (particularly relational approaches) and studies of the relationship between technology and users, specifically, domestication theory. My research questions were: 1) How do older people come to adopt Telecare in their homes? 2) How does Telecare change the meanings and experiences of home for older people? and 3) How does Telecare change the meanings and experiences of care for older people? Drawing on domestication theory, I analysed how Telecare was appropriated, objectified, incorporated and converted by older people in their own homes. My findings suggested an incomplete ‘domestication’ of Telecare, linked both to feelings of ambivalence towards this form of care which, despite its stated purpose as a tool to support independence, can still come to be associated with frailty and vulnerability amongst older people and the quest for independence embedded in Telecare. The research shows that older people’s homes were modified, although not significantly disrupted, by the introduction of Telecare. This is because their homes were already a site of care, populated by formal and informal carers and by a plethora of assistive devices. Telecare seemed to coexist, without particular tension, with previous forms of care. The study showed that the extent to which, and the ways in which, the dichotomization between care ‘in person’ and care ‘at a distance’ fails to capture older people’s experiences of Telecare, the latter of which was experienced as part of a wider care network of established and new formal and informal carers and technological devices. When it worked well, despite some ambivalence that seems to reflect concerns about growing frailty and dependence, Telecare gave older people a sense of security and safety at home, as well as new opportunities for face-to-face care with Telecare workers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available