Development of an Internet Based Videoconferencing System for ACTION (Assisting Careers using Telematic Interventions to meet Older persons Needs
The demographic trends in Sweden show that the population is growing older. The society is facing new challenges in providing a good and coste ective health care system. Many frail older people are taking care of their partner in their own homes: they become informal family carers without any prior nursing knowledge.
The aim of this Thesis project is to develop tools for supporting family carers by using information and communication technology. More specifically, the task is to develop an Internet based videoconferencing system using the design and outcome of the ACTION project in year 1997-2002. The videoconferencing system can be used for communication between the family carers and the professional carers including purely social purposes. Successfully implemented, the videoconferencing system should provide better care and enhance the every day quality of life for the family carers. It should deliver a richer means of communication and reduce social isolation.
The Thesis presents the technical specifications and implementation of the videoconferencing system. Since this system represents an integrated part of a larger information and communication system, some light is also shed on the more global technological infrastructure of the ACTION system. It is shown how an IP based commercial-scale care system consisting a of a computer, videophone and information database can be build upon the Internet infrastructure. The Thesis continues with a quantitative and a qualitative evaluation of the videoconferencing system in the form of user statistics and an interview study. Both family and professional carers were interviewed. The evaluation shows that the videoconfencing system is easy enough to use, it is used frequently and that it performs satisfactory. Furthermore, it contributes to a sense of presence and helps building informal social support networks among users. In conjunction with the other components of the ACTION model it can contribute to better care and enhance the everyday quality of life of frail older people and their family carers.