February 24, 2024

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The significance of digital connection for aged care residents

A Senior Research Fellow at the Auckland University of Technology’s National Institute for Public Health and Mental Health Research is leading a study, which shows that aged care residents are dependent on family and friends to keep them digitally connected.

As reported, despite the spread of the internet, age-related gaps in digital engagement still exist and a group that is particularly vulnerable to being excluded are those living in aged care environments.

The report highlights that senior citizens are more digitally connected than ever. However, little is known about the online social connectivity of older people after they enter residential aged care.

Residents are often omitted from surveys and reports, and their use of digital technologies remains largely invisible.

Maintaining a digital connection for aged-care residents

The study called, “The Socially Connectedness of Older People in Residential Aged Communities”, examines the residents’ use of digital technologies to stay in touch with people.

Research shows that family and friends play an important role in supporting and encouraging residents to use digital technologies.

Oftentimes, a family member purchases the device, arranges the Wi-Fi connection and sets up any software.

Additionally, family and friends will bring over their own devices to share photos and videos even if the resident does not use technology themselves.

Researchers interviewed the close family members and friends of older people living in an aged care facility or retirement village.

Interview Participants

To provide a more diverse sample, they included those with physical or mental disabilities, who may have found it difficult to communicate their own technology use.

Altogether, the study participants provided data on 80 aged care residents in Auckland with an average age of 86 years.

They were predominantly European, and three-quarters were women.

Almost half of them owned a mobile phone or computer and their most common methods of communication on these devices were mobile calls, text messaging and email.

Findings

Digital technologies served as a way of supplementing social contact instead of replacing it. The frequency of personal visits from family and friends was not affected by the use of technology.

Interviewees have noted that aged care facilities seldom provided Wi-Fi access for the residents. Majority of them were not even aware of any computers being available in common areas.

The research learned that family and friends consistently sought to fill the gaps themselves.

However, they would like to see aged care operators play a more active role in providing access to digital technologies as well as technical support.

Some of the newer facilities are starting to cater for the changing communication needs of their residents.

Although things are moving in the right direction, there is still a long way to go before computer access is available to everyone.

Study participants also struggled to find devices suitable for failing eyesight and arthritic hands. This is an opportunity for developers to meet the needs of the rapidly growing older demographic.

Why social connections are important?

Moving into a retirement village or rest home can radically affect a person’s ability to remain socially connected.

The facility is often some distance from the neighbourhood where they once lived and older people cannot always travel to maintain relationships.

This causes poor health outcomes and higher mortality risks, with a significant reduction in quality of life.

Digital engagement in later life might not always be preferred or possible, but it can enhance the wellbeing of older people through more frequent social interactions and improved access to information.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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