Special Issue "Health and Wellbeing Promotion for People Living with Dementia through Human-Centred Technologies"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Digital Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sonja Pedell
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Communication Design and Digital Media Design, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn VIC 3122, Melbourne, Australia
Interests: design for aging; aged care; ergonomics and aesthetics design: cognitive models; interaction design; user-centred design; human computer interaction
Dr. Jeanie Beh
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Design Innovation, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn VIC 3122, Melbourne, Australia
Interests: aged care; computing education; human computer interactions; product innovation design; service design; education; design for aging; co-design; interaction design; gerontology; dementia; human interest and motivation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Human–computer interaction (HCI) plays an increasingly important role in supporting the wellbeing and health of people living with dementia through everyday interactive products. Research has shown that feelings of independence, confidence, and social relatedness can increase wellbeing. These concepts have yet to be explored in depth in regard to their longer-term impact for people living with dementia supported by technology. We are interested in how people living with dementia engage with technologies to gain more independence, foster equal participation, and maintain positive social interactions facilitated by technology. Person-centred care and Kitwood’s concept of personhood demands that technologies used in care enable interactions that are flexible and can be tailored to individual needs, interests, and life goals through carers and increasingly lifestyle staff. We invite articles promoting technologies that are striving for normality and holistic health without stigmatising people with dementia further and excluding them from participating in daily activities and social interactions. The key aim of this issue is to show evidence of how technologies can facilitate engagement with meaningful activities, increasing health and wellbeing for people with dementia and their relationships beyond the principles of clinical or medical care. We advocate participatory methods in designing, developing, and evaluating these technologies. While focussing on the individual living with dementia, we also emphasise the need to consider the wider sociotechnical system during technology implementation. We encourage contributions of any type of technologies targeting the range of dementia conditions from early diagnosis to late-stage dementia.

Dr. Sonja Pedell
Dr. Jeanie Beh
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • human–computer interaction
  • dementia
  • wellbeing technology
  • sociotechnical systems
  • health
  • human-centred design
  • participatory design
  • social integration
  • engagement
  • technology evaluation

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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Article
Toward the Integration of Technology-Based Interventions in the Care Pathway for People with Dementia: A Cross-National Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10405; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph181910405 - 02 Oct 2021
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Abstract
Background: The integration of technology-based interventions into health and care provision in our aging society is still a challenge especially in the care pathway for people with dementia. Objective: The study aims to: (1) identify which socio-demographic characteristics are independently associated with the [...] Read more.
Background: The integration of technology-based interventions into health and care provision in our aging society is still a challenge especially in the care pathway for people with dementia. Objective: The study aims to: (1) identify which socio-demographic characteristics are independently associated with the use of the embodied conversational agent among subjects with dementia, (2) uncover patient cluster profiles based on these characteristics, and (3) discuss technology-based interventions challenges. Methods: A virtual agent was used for four weeks by 55 persons with dementia living in their home environment. Results: Participants evaluated the agent as easy-to-use and quickly learnable. They felt confident while using the system and expressed the willingness to use it frequently. Moreover, 21/55 of the patients perceived the virtual agent as a friend and assistant who they could feel close to and who would remind them of important things. Conclusions: Technology-based interventions require a significant effort, such as personalized features and patient-centered care pathways, to be effective. Therefore, this study enriches the open discussion on how such virtual agents must be evidence-based related and designed by multidisciplinary teams, following patient-centered care as well as user-centered design approaches. Full article
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Article
Volunteers’ Support of Carers of Rural People Living with Dementia to Use a Custom-Built Application
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9909; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18189909 - 20 Sep 2021
Viewed by 830
Abstract
There is great potential for human-centred technologies to enhance wellbeing for people living with dementia and their carers. The Virtual Dementia Friendly Rural Communities (Verily Connect) project aimed to increase access to information, support, and connection for carers of rural people living with [...] Read more.
There is great potential for human-centred technologies to enhance wellbeing for people living with dementia and their carers. The Virtual Dementia Friendly Rural Communities (Verily Connect) project aimed to increase access to information, support, and connection for carers of rural people living with dementia, via a co-designed, integrated website/mobile application (app) and Zoom videoconferencing. Volunteers were recruited and trained to assist the carers to use the Verily Connect app and videoconferencing. The overall research design was a stepped wedge open cohort randomized cluster trial involving 12 rural communities, spanning three states of Australia, with three types of participants: carers of people living with dementia, volunteers, and health/aged services staff. Data collected from volunteers (n = 39) included eight interviews and five focus groups with volunteers, and 75 process memos written by research team members. The data were analyzed using a descriptive evaluation framework and building themes through open coding, inductive reasoning, and code categorization. The volunteers reported that the Verily Connect app was easy to use and they felt they derived benefit from volunteering. The volunteers had less volunteering work than they desired due to low numbers of carer participants; they reported that older rural carers were partly reluctant to join the trial because they eschewed using online technologies, which was the reason for involving volunteers from each local community. Full article

Review

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Review
Designing Work with People Living with Dementia: Reflecting on a Decade of Research
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 11742; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph182211742 - 09 Nov 2021
Viewed by 334
Abstract
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is widely acknowledged as a landmark document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives from all over the world, the declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 [...] Read more.
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is widely acknowledged as a landmark document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives from all over the world, the declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard for all peoples and all nations. The declaration sets out a series of articles that articulate a number of fundamental human rights to be universally protected. Article 23 of the declaration relates to the right to work and states that people have a human right to work, or engage in productive employment, and may not be prevented from doing so. The right to work is enshrined in international human rights law through its inclusion in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, where the right to work emphasizes economic, social and cultural development. This paper presents ongoing research that highlights how a disruptive co-design approach contributes to upholding UN Article 23 through the creation of a series of innovative working practices developed with people living with dementia. The research, undertaken in collaboration with several voluntary and third sector organizations in the UK, looks to break the cycle of prevailing opinions, traditional mindsets, and ways-of-doing that tend to remain uncontested in the health and social care of people living with dementia. As a result, this research has produced a series of innovative work opportunities for people living with dementia and their formal and informal carers that change the perception of dementia by showing that people living with dementia are capable of designing and making desirable products and offering much to UK society after diagnosis. In this ongoing research, the right to continue to work for people living with dementia post-diagnosis in creative and innovative ways has clearly helped to reconnect them to other people, helped build their self-esteem, identity and dignity and helped keep the person with dementia connected to their community, thus delaying the need for crisis interventions. This paper reports on a series of future work initiatives for people living with dementia where we have used design as a disruptive force for good to ensure that anyone diagnosed with dementia can exercise their right to work and engage in productive and rewarding employment. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Users as ‘experts’: co-creating experiences for people with dementia using TUNGSTEN

Authors: Arlene Astell; Shital Desai
Affiliation: University of Reading
Abstract: We conducted a half day workshop with seniors with cognitive impairment, caregivers, healthcare professionals and technology developers to explore how technologies can support seniors with cognitive impairments. Participants engaged in three TUNGSTEN (Tools for User Needs Gathering to Sustain Technology ENgagement) activities. We report findings from Technology Interaction which uses a technology mystery box to uncover factors that determine if older adults persevere with technologies or abandon them. Thematic analysis identified themes unique to the older adults with dementia. These outcomes are informing our ongoing efforts in building a framework for designing technologies for older adults with dementia.

Title: Mobile technology to facilitate engagement with older adults living with dementia in residential care
Authors: Sonja Pedell, Claire Craig, Kathryn Rawlings et al
Affiliation: Swinburne University of Technology, Sheffield Hallam University, SheffCare
Abstract: This article investigates opportunities of the “A better visit” app to benefit a wider user-base of those who interact with people living with dementia to create shared social and meaningful experiences through technology use. The app was piloted in collaboration with a UK residential aged care provider with residences at 10 locations within the city of Sheffield to support their activity program (volunteers and activity workers). We were interested in benefits for these user groups and whether the technology would help in engaging in quality ways with the residents during one-on-one time spent together. Results show that the app is promising by widening the activities available to offer to residents, spark joint two-way conversations, and build relationships. The app was received well by both activity managers and volunteers to get to know the residents, and support familiar activities such as colouring in, listening to engaging tunes, and referring to favourite activities such as fishing and lawn bowls. Overall the app proved to be useful to engage residents with dementia in enjoyable activities. We conclude with recommendations for technology design, choice and facilitated use in residential settings. This is particularly important in times where external visits are not possible.

Title: Goals and needs for assistive technology to increase self-management of people living with dementia at home
Authors: Sonja Pedell et al
Affiliation: Swinburne University of Technology, Dementia Australia
Abstract: Swinburne University of Technology, Dementia Australia Abstract: This paper describes the whole process of data collection and technology deployment in the home and the received benefits through tailoring modular system solutions addressing specific needs of individuals living with dementia. We describe the most common scenarios on what people living with dementia want to self-manage and engage in in on a daily basis and how this does influence what technologies are suitable for them. We show that involving users in the iterative development and tailoring process of home technologies increases take up and independence. This paper describes how the iterative user-centred approach of technology deployment informed the development, but also adoption and technology choices of people living with dementia and showcases the main benefits with the help of several participant case studies. The paper finishes with recommendations on how to make effective technology choices along the dementia journey.

Title: The role of motivation, training and instruction material for take up of technology for people living with dementia in different settings
Authors: Jeanie Beh, Sonja Pedell et al
Affiliation: Swinburne University of Technology, Dementia Australia
Abstract: People want to live in their own homes for longer and technologies could support and increase their level of independence and self-management. This study explores human motivation towards uptake of technologies through carers and participants’ perspectives. We provide case studies on people living with dementia with various needs and in different settings (metropolitan or rural as well as living alone or with family support). Findings from the study suggested that participants felt empowered, positive and confident towards use of technologies that were tailored to their individual needs. Their experiences have been aided, shared and maintained through technical support that consisted of face to face, telephone, emails and instructional materials.

Title: Gait Assessment Using Wearable Sensor-Based Devices in People Living with Dementia: A Systematic Review
Authors: Udi Weizmann; Oren Tirosh; Jeanie Beh; Sonja Pedell
Affiliation: Swinburne University of Technology
Abstract: The ability of people living with Dementia to walk independently is a key contributor to their overall well-being and autonomy. As Dementia is associated with gait dysfunction, and plays a key role in quality of life, it is important to fully understand the relationship between these two parameters to explain pathology and improve older adults’ health and care. In recent years, wearable sensor-based devices have become more portable, affordable and integrated into the daily lives of consumers in many application domains. These sensor-based systems have also become a popular alternative or “add-on” to more costly, and strictly lab-based methods of quantifying gait characteristics in many recent studies. With daily improvements in wearable technologies and rapidly increasing number of papers investigating wearables for gait assessment in people living with Dementia, it is valuable to frequently review the literature to report on latest findings. This systematic review aims at providing an updated overview of the current research on wearable sensors for gait analysis in older adults living with Dementia. The review will focus on the objectives and findings of the studies, participants, participants’ goals, gait analysis settings, wearables characteristics and the features derived from the data.

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