Smart Home Sensing and Monitoring in Households With Dementia: User-Centered Design Approach

JMIR Aging. 2021 Aug 11;4(3):e27047. doi: 10.2196/27047.


BACKGROUND: As life expectancy grows, so do the challenges of caring for an aging population. Older adults, including people with dementia, want to live independently and feel in control of their lives for as long as possible. Assistive technologies powered by artificial intelligence and internet of things devices are being proposed to provide living environments that support the users’ safety, psychological, and medical needs through remote monitoring and interventions.

OBJECTIVE: This study investigates the functional, psychosocial, and environmental needs of people living with dementia, their caregivers, clinicians, and health and social care service providers toward the design and implementation of smart home systems.

METHODS: We used an iterative user-centered design approach comprising 9 substudies. First, semistructured interviews (9 people with dementia, 9 caregivers, and 10 academic and clinical staff) and workshops (35 pairs of people with dementia and caregivers, and 12 health and social care clinicians) were conducted to define the needs of people with dementia, home caregivers, and professional stakeholders in both daily activities and technology-specific interactions. Then, the spectrum of needs identified was represented via patient-caregiver personas and discussed with stakeholders in a workshop (14 occupational therapists; 4 National Health Service pathway directors; and 6 researchers in occupational therapy, neuropsychiatry, and engineering) and 2 focus groups with managers of health care services (n=8), eliciting opportunities for innovative care technologies and public health strategies. Finally, these design opportunities were discussed in semistructured interviews with participants of a smart home trial involving environmental sensors, physiological measurement devices, smartwatches, and tablet-based chatbots and cognitive assessment puzzles (10 caregivers and 2 people with dementia). A thematic analysis revealed factors that motivate household members to use these technologies.

RESULTS: Outcomes of these activities include a qualitative and quantitative analysis of patient, caregiver, and clinician needs and the identification of challenges and opportunities for the design and implementation of remote monitoring systems in public health pathways.

CONCLUSIONS: Participatory design methods supported the triangulation of stakeholder perspectives to aid the development of more patient-centered interventions and their translation to clinical practice and public health strategy. We discuss the implications and limitations of our findings, the value and the applicability of our methodology, and directions for future research.

PMID:34383672 | DOI:10.2196/27047

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