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Conceptual approach for new routes in eHealth:<br/>Movement practices of elderly care

Final Report Summary - CAREMOVES (Conceptual approach for new routes in eHealth: Movement practices of elderly care)

Project context and objectives

The current demographic challenge of population ageing motivates CAREMOVES. This challenge has inspired increased interest in home-based elderly care augmented by health-care IT that retains older people's sense of dignity and independence. In this context, the project employs comparative ethnographic research on home-based care for older people. It focuses specifically on home-care practices in Sweden and the United States, arising from challenges of movement and mobility. The project has three main research objectives:
-1) generate empirical knowledge of movement practices of old age home care in different health-care settings, based on exploratory ethnographic research in the United States and Sweden;
- 2) devise an alternative conceptual approach of elderly care formulated on this new empirical knowledge;
-3) enable knowledge transfer, exchange, and public dissemination with internal and external stakeholders.

Work performed and results

For Objective 1, fieldwork was carried out as planned and in accordance with the ethical reviews and approval. This research confirmed that movement in home-based elderly care creates a range of tensions linked with quality of care and elderly independence.

For Objective 2, qualitative analysis was conducted on the ethnographic data of movement practices in elderly home care. This laid the foundations for an alternative conceptual approach of elderly care. In particular, a set of experimental heuristics was developed. These explore the dynamics of movement practices in several situations, specifically:
-a) the risk of falling in the home environment;
-b) the space and time of home-care delivery;
-c) care surveillance and safety in the home;
-d) design processes of new elderly home-care technologies.

Objective 3 concerns the public dissemination of the results and transfer of knowledge. In turn, several texts have either been published or are in the process of being published on these topics.

Expected impact and plan for results

CAREMOVES confirms the importance of mobility and other forms of movement for proper care but also seniors' own sense of independence. It has also investigated the frictions of movement and ways that care workers and the elderly try to overcome these challenges. The conceptual framework developed in the project is based on these findings. It positions the concept of care as networked movement practices that enrol humans, domestic environments and their technologies. This conceptual framework of care as a networked or distributed phenomenon is an alternative to the conventional distinction of formal and informal care. This approach is expected to have potential impact for the design and development of new health-care IT as well as future ethnographic studies of elderly care.

The project's objectives have continued relevance in the following ways. The ethnographic component carried out in the project (objective 1), has strengthened the researcher's fieldwork experience and knowledge. This knowledge will be transferred in the researcher's future scholarly initiatives. The conceptual approach (objective 2) developed in this project will serve as a strong foundation for future research. The researcher is in the process of developing a follow-up project proposal using the conceptual approach of this project. The various public engagements (objective 3), namely international conference attendance and presentations, enabled by the project have broadened the researcher's network of professional contacts. In addition, at least two future journal publications are being planned which are directly linked with the objectives achieved in this project. Lastly, the project has improved the researcher's professional standing and future career opportunities.

Please see the project website at http://caremoves.wordpress.com/ or contact Randi Markussen, scientist in charge, IT University of Copenhagen: rmar@itu.dk or Peter Lutz, researcher: Email: palutz1@gmail.com for further information.