Care givers are being asked how digital technologies help them to support family members and friends, as part of a study by researchers at the University of Strathclyde.
The Digital Health and Wellness Group at the University of Strathclyde, in partnership with Carers Scotland and The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE), are looking to find out how carers can use digital technologies to support the person that they are caring for and, importantly, to care for themselves.
Professor Roma Maguire from the Department of Computer & Information Science said: "Caregiving is all around us. One in ten people in the UK - that’s 6.5 million - are informally caring for a family member friend or relative. With numerous work or family responsibilities to balance, it is not surprising that the health and wellbeing of those with caring responsibilities can be negatively affected.
“Digital technologies such as mobile phones and apps are increasingly recognised as a means to support carers in their caring role and also to promote their own health and wellbeing. Such applications can help with things like medication management, support independence and give the carer some peace of mind when they are away from the person they are caring for.”
Dr Kieren Egan from the University of Strathclyde, who is working on the project with Professor Maguire, said: “It’s important to improve our understanding of how well the fast paced digital technology market is addressing carers needs now and in the future.”
Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland said, “Carers Scotland, as part of Carers UK, is committed to exploring how technology can help carers and the person they are looking after and this is why we are delighted to support Strathclyde’s research in this area.
“Many of us use technology in our everyday lives but don’t think of technology when it comes to caring. Yet it can help carers be more efficient, take some of the worry and stress out of caring, reduce unplanned visits or hospitalisation, and give carers and their loved ones more confidence and independence.”
Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive of the ALLIANCE, emphasised the importance of researching the support carers need to live their own lives well. He said: “Current support technologies or services don’t always address the health and wellbeing of the person providing care. We hope that this timely study will shed light on some of the challenges these individuals face and help shape future services in a way that benefits both those receiving and providing care, irrespective of their circumstances.”
The project group is launching a nationwide survey, called The Supported Carer Project, to find out directly from carers how digital technology can support them in their everyday lives.
The results will be used to inform a programme of work focusing on the use of digital technologies to support carers in the future.
See the project survey.