Requirements for Unobtrusive Monitoring to Support Home-Based Dementia Care: Qualitative Study Among Formal and Informal Caregivers

Christian Wrede* (Corresponding Author), Annemarie Braakman-Jansen, Lisette van Gemert-Pijnen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Due to a growing shortage in residential care, people with dementia will increasingly be encouraged to live at home for longer. Although people with dementia prefer extended independent living, this also puts more pressure on both their informal and formal care networks. To support (in)formal caregivers of people with dementia, there is growing interest in unobtrusive contactless in-home monitoring technologies that allow caregivers to remotely monitor the lifestyle, health, and safety of their care recipients. Despite their potential, these solutions will only be viable if they meet the expectations and needs of formal and informal caregivers of people with dementia.
Objective: The objective of this study was to explore the expected benefits, barriers, needs, and requirements toward unobtrusive in-home monitoring from the perspective of formal and informal caregivers of community-dwelling people with dementia.
Methods: A combination of semistructured interviews and focus groups was used to collect data among informal (n=19) and formal (n=16) caregivers of people with dementia. Both sets of participants were presented with examples of unobtrusive in-home monitoring followed by questions addressing expected benefits, barriers, and needs. Relevant in-home monitoring goals were identified using a previously developed topic list. Interviews and focus groups were transcribed and inductively analyzed. Requirements for unobtrusive in-home monitoring were elicited based on the procedure of van Velsen and Bergvall-Kåreborn.
Results: Formal and informal caregivers saw unobtrusive in-home monitoring as a support tool that should particularly be used to monitor (the risk of) falls, day and night rhythm, personal hygiene, nocturnal restlessness, and eating and drinking behavior. Generally, (in)formal caregivers reported cross-checking self-care information, extended independent living, objective communication, prevention and proactive measures, emotional reassurance, and personalized and optimized care as the key benefits of unobtrusive in-home monitoring. Main concerns centered around privacy, information overload, and ethical concerns related to dehumanizing care. Furthermore, 16 requirements for unobtrusive in-home monitoring were generated that specified desired functions, how the technology should communicate with the user, which services surrounding the technology were seen as needed, and how the technology should be integrated into the existing work context.
Conclusions: Despite the presence of barriers, formal and informal caregivers of people with dementia generally saw value in unobtrusive in-home monitoring, and felt that these systems could contribute to a shift from reactive to more proactive and less obtrusive care. However, the full potential of unobtrusive in-home monitoring can only unfold if relevant concerns are considered. Our requirements can inform the development of more acceptable and goal-directed in-home monitoring technologies to support home-based dementia care.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere26875
JournalJMIR Aging
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021


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