Introduction

Carers consistently report experiencing poor physical and mental health as a result of caring. National and local governments suggest that use of technology, for example, computers and mobile phones with digital applications (apps) can assist family and other unpaid carers and reduce the challenges associated with caring. Some technology is already widely used, such as internet searches for information relevant to caring. Other applications such as remote monitoring and fall detector sensors are less widely used.

Carers of people living with dementia may face considerable challenges due to the high number of hours of care provided and the cognitive decline of care recipients. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) such as memory devices and visual communication aids may be of particular value to people living with dementia and their carers.

Objectives

This study aims to provide evidence on patterns of ICT use by unpaid adult carers of people living with dementia; evaluate effects of using ICT services on the health and wellbeing of carers; and develop an evaluation instrument to aid local authorities to assess new technologies to ensure that they meet the needs of carers.

Because of the high number and wide variety of care-related applications on the market, this study will focus on the different tasks or functions of applications. It will then examine which types of applications successfully assist carers of people living with dementia.

Methods

This study involves:

  1. Collaboration with four local authority teams and local voluntary organisations to organise four focus groups with carers and a workshop to discuss the use of ICT by carers
  2. Links with a study called DETERMIND, led from Brighton and Sussex Medical School, collecting data from a sample of 800 people living with dementia and their carers to survey carers to ask what technology they use, for what tasks and whether they find ICT helpful
  3. Determining practical ways in which the findings can be used to evaluate ICT.