Engagement of people with dementia in care homes using digital technologies: Reflections on involving experts by experience

Authors: Heward, M., Fenge, L. and Murphy, J.

Conference: British Society of Gerontology

Dates: 5-7 July 2023


The COVID-19 pandemic shifted communication from physical to digital spaces. Care during the pandemic for people with dementia was negatively impacted, particularly in care homes. Closure to visitors had a detrimental impact on resident’s mental health, distress, boredom, loneliness, and increased use of antipsychotic drugs. In response, many care homes embraced technology to maintain resident contact with family.

The aim of this study is to explore current practice and lessons learnt during the pandemic in terms of digital technologies being developed and/or used to support the engagement of people with dementia in care homes. This is part of a wider project, focusing on digital innovation in care homes, developing a national network of interested parties to identify and take forwards research priorities.

This is a mixed methods study exploring whether digital technologies are being used, how they are used (i.e., replicating physical approaches or alternatives), and how effective they are. Data is currently being collected through an online survey aimed at: care home managers, staff, and volunteers; and developers of digital technologies, researchers, and academics. The views of family carers (n=6-12) are also being collected in semi-structured interviews over Zoom.

In this paper we reflect on the process of involving experts by experience in developing this work. The process has been hugely beneficial in shaping the project, although has proved challenging at times for various reasons. During this talk we will discuss what we have learnt as we hope these experiences are helpful for others wanted to involve people with lived experience in their research.

Source: Manual