Bringing the Outside in Through Facilitated Communication Technology in Long Term Care
How Do Facilitated, Virtual Communication Interventions Influence Peer Interaction, Social Engagement and Participant Well-Being?
Keywords:older adults, technology, social engagement, facilitated virtual communication, long term care settings
This paper aims to report on a qualitative, pre- and post-intervention study in a long-term care (LTC) setting in Ireland. The focus of the study was to ascertain how a facilitated, virtual communication intervention, delivered once per week over a four-week period, influenced peer interaction and social engagement. Ten residents participated in semi-structured interviews before and after four weeks of once-per-week virtual talks delivered via an online platform. The interviews allowed to gain an insight into participant perceptions on the use of technology for engaging with topics of interest and facilitating social interaction in an accidental community. Interviews were transcribed and then analysed from a phenomenological perspective. Pre-intervention themes included ‘wellbeing in LTC’, ‘risks to wellbeing’, ‘social engagement’, ‘reminiscing about the past’, ‘curiosity’ and a ‘dearth of experience with technology’. Post-intervention interviews revealed themes including ‘a break from routine’, ‘forming new ties’, ‘technology for learning and wellbeing in long term care’, and its use to ‘augment personal choice and autonomy’ in such settings. Based on participants’ lived experience and the themes which emerged in the post-intervention interviews, there is potential for the facilitated use of technology to mitigate social isolation which can arise in such settings, and provide opportunities for common ground, choice-making and forming new ties.
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