Technology to Reduce Social Isolation in Older Australians
Thursday, 21st June 2012 at 10:52 am
The latest tablet technologies can alleviate feelings of social isolation for older people, and increase their wellbeing, according to new research.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society, in collaboration with Not for Profit aged care service provider, Benetas, have built an iPad application that allows participants to create and share photographs and messages with each other.
The researchers found that communications technologies are effective in alleviating social isolation, but cannot achieve this alone as face-to-face engagement remains an essential part of developing connections.
The findings are published in the Mobile and broadband technologies for ameliorating social isolation in older people white paper released today.
Chief Investigator, Associate Professor Frank Vetere from the Department of Computing and Information Systems, said, “The technology allowed participants from older age groups who were socially isolated to connect with each other through a specially designed iPad application, ‘Enmesh’, ( Engagement through Media Sharing) that facilitated the communication between participants.”
Participants in the trial and their care managers were provided with touch tablet devices for a period of ten weeks. During this time, investigators conducted interviews and made observations to gauge their experiences of the technology.
The application was built with older users in mind, allowing them to effectively transmit photos and messages to fellow participants. Most of the participants were aged in their 80s and 90s.
The white paper summarises the impact of technology for ameliorating social isolation. The Australian Research Council is supporting a larger trial of the technology, which is due to commence later this year.