During the first months of the WAY·KEY project we conducted a series of workshops. Each workshop was geared towards a different group of stakeholders, older adults without dementia, care personnel, relatives of people with dementia, and health experts in the context of the eHealth conference.
While we learned a lot from these workshops and the participants' different viewpoints, our most interesting takeaways came from discussions around the topic of autonomy, privacy, adapting to new things and security.
The first workshop with older adults without dementia gave us a better idea of existing daily routines, things they usually take with them when going out and their use of technology. Participants openly discussed their stance on privacy and security, which highly differed from person to person, from an openness towards being tracked at all time to a hesitation of carrying around hidden items marked with personal data. They also commented on the need for a more informed and helpful neighborhood and a more sensitized society to issues of ageing and its effect on autonomy and mobility.
The second workshop introduced us to the viewpoint of professional caretakers from institutions and home care environments. Participants collected situations in which people with dementia could potentially be supported by a technical intervention, be it for everyday household chores or for situations related to mobility. An important takeaway from this workshop was an emphasis on the immense difference of the constitution of older people who can still live at home, even with difficulties, to people who are admitted to care facilities. Furthermore, we talked about the still existing curiosity of older adults with dementia to try out new things and the need to keep up this curious approach when introducing them to new technology tools.
In the third workshop we talked to relatives of people with dementia as well as dementia patients. Most of the workshop was spent with the exchange of experiences of caring for relatives with dementia or being cared for by family. Relatives talked about their difficulty to accept the fact that their loved ones did not deliberately forget about certain things or were not on purpose not able to do things they had done their whole lives. They also brought up the issue of sharing the responsibility of caring for their loved ones with others and accepting help. We also discussed the introduction of new technology, the difficulty to learn new things and the necessity for easily accessible interfaces when developing new tools.
The last workshop of the series took part in the context of the eHealth conference in Vienna. The conference is attended by a mix of participants from academia, industry, government and health care organizations, which was an interesting target group for our project. We introduced first ideas for possible prototypes and discussed their design and possible issues, particularly security of the tools and surveillance, as well as compliance and free will of potential users.
These workshops resulted in three initial prototype designs, which will be described in future blog posts (Cooperative day planner) and explored in more depth in the upcoming month.