An internet-based videoconferencing system for supporting frail elderly people and their carers
Journal article, 2008
The ACTION project uses information and communication technology to support frail elderly people and their family carers. The aims are to enhance their quality of life, independence and preparedness and to break social isolation. A videoconferencing system, connecting homes and a call centre, was used in a pilot study in 1997-2002. A re-designed system was brought into use in late 2004 and over 60 new units were introduced during the first six months. The new system was evaluated with an interview study and by data logging. Eight family users and four professional carers were interviewed. The family users had used the videophone at least six times and they had had the equipment at home for at least two months. The average number of initiated calls per user was 5.7 per month and the average call time per user was 40 min per month. Seven of the users (88%) reported that the system very much reduced their sense of loneliness and isolation. The results of the evaluation were encouraging. There were several frequent users of videoconferencing. System quality was acceptable although a shorter audio delay would be desirable. The system was used regularly by the participants and it fulfilled its purpose.