1 July 2017
Ageing societies and a rising prevalence of dementia are associated with increasing demand for care home places. Monitoring technologies (e.g. bed-monitoring systems; wearable location-tracking devices) are appealing to care homes as they may enhance safety, increase resident freedom, and reduce staff burden. However, there are ethical concerns about the use of such technologies, and it is unclear how they might be implemented to deliver their full range of potential benefits.
This study explored facilitators and barriers to the implementation of monitoring technologies in care homes.
Purposive sample of 24 staff (including registered nurses, clinical specialists, senior managers and care workers), 9 relatives and 9 residents.
36 semi-structured interviews with staff, relatives and residents; 175 h of observation; resident care record review. Data collection informed by Normalization Process Theory, which seeks to account for how novel interventions become routine practice. Data analysed using Framework Analysis.
Findings are presented under three main themes: 1. Reasons for using technologies: The primary reason for using monitoring technologies was to enhance safety. This often seemed to override consideration of other potential benefits (e.g. increased resident freedom) or ethical concerns (e.g. resident privacy); 2. Ways in which technologies were implemented: Some staff, relatives and residents were not involved in discussions and decision-making, which seemed to limit understandings of the potential benefits and challenges from the technologies. Involvement of residents appeared particularly challenging. Staff highlighted the importance of training, but staff training appeared mainly informal which did not seem sufficient to ensure that staff fully understood the technologies; 3. Use of technologies in practice: Technologies generated frequent alarms that placed a burden upon staff, but staff were able to use their contextual knowledge to help to counter some of this burden. Some technologies offered a range of data-gathering capabilities, but were not always perceived as useful complements to practice.
Implementation of monitoring technologies may be facilitated by the extent to which the technologies are perceived to enhance safety. Implementation may be further facilitated through greater involvement of all stakeholders in discussions and decision-making in order to deepen understandings about the range of potential benefits and challenges from the use of monitoring technologies. Staff training might need to move beyond functional instruction to include deeper exploration of anticipated benefits and the underlying rationale for using monitoring technologies.