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The extended television: Using tangible computing to meet the needs of older persons at a nursing home

P.A. Waller, B. Östlund, B. Jönsson

Gerontechnology 2008; 7(1):36-47 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4017/gt.2008.07.01.004.00

Abstract

This paper presents a person-centred model and a tangible computing approach to better adapt television media to meet two important needs of older people: social inclusion in their immediate surroundings and better support for one’s own reflections. Method The research project was carried out as a part of the construction, planning and implementation of a new nursing home. The implemented infrastructure enabled television watching at three levels: the regular (broadcast programmes), the internal and the personal. The internal level consisted of an in-house broadcast television channel and two media centres placed in common areas. The personal level had individualised functions. The entire concept is referred to as ‘extended television’. This paper describes the early implementation phase of the internal television channel and the personal television photo album. It also examines the consequences of a person-centred model and a tangible computing approach. Participation in the use of the ‘ex-tended television’ together with older people, relatives and care workers, semi-structured dialogues with these people, and observations of the television usage were conducted. Furthermore, the care workers were invited to comment on the prototypes very early in the process. Results Both the internal channel and the personal television photo album were used by older residents and iteratively adapted. However, too many factors and routines varied to get statistically sound results. On the other hand, the research shows that the person-centred study design utilised provided positive results in a setting with constantly changing conditions. Discussion This design encourages further investigations regarding how new conceptual television design can enrich the everyday lives of older people. The results also indicate the plausibility of television photo albums providing new opportunities for reminiscence compared to traditional ones, and that the internal channel resulted in possibilities for social inclusion in the nursing home examined.
Keywords: tangible computing; social inclusion; reminiscence; photograph

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Gerontechnology (ISSN/EISSN 1569-1101 1569-111X) is the official journal of the International Society for Gerontechnology