The impact of information and communication technology on family carers of older people and professionals in Sweden
Government policy in Sweden, as in other developed countries, pays increasing attention as to how best to support the family carers of older people. New and innovative means of support, such as information and communication technology, are emerging. This paper explores the perceived benefits of, and barriers to, information technology as a means of supporting family carers of older people. Following a brief overview of the care-giving literature, with particular reference to the Swedish context, interview and questionnaire data collected from 34 families who took part in the Swedish ACTION project are used to explore the role of user-friendly information and communication technology to inform and enable family carers of older people to exercise choice, to care more effectively and to work in partnership with professionals. Interview data from two groups of professionals that utilised ACTION are also examined to throw light on its potential benefits for both carers and professionals. Consideration is given to the barriers to using information technology, and to identifying those carers most likely to benefit. Areas for further development are the need for practitioners' education and a wider range of programmes to address carers' diverse needs. Clearly, lessons learned from the Swedish project have wider relevance, given that new forms of support are being developed in most technically advanced countries.(Accepted January 18 2005)
Key Words: family carers; practitioners; partnership; information and communication technology; community care.
c1 Department of Health Sciences and ÄldreVäst Sjuhärad Research Centre, University College of Borås, Allégatan 1, S-50190, Borås, Sweden. e-mail: [email protected]