Researchers from the University of Stirling have recommended that care homes in Scotland make more use of iPads for interactive and social activities.
This follows the team’s research in the use of the devices during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the conclusion that it had a positive effect.
The team, led by dementia specialist Dr Grant Gibson, looked at the performance of the Connecting Residents in Scotland’s Care Homes (CRSCH) initiative, launched in 2020 to equip all the country’s care homes with digital devices, connectivity and training.
It found that 75% of the 1,398 registered care homes were provided with at least one iPad, while 115 took possession of multiple devices, to enable video calls between residents and family members.
It also found the technology provided benefits through physical activity, entertainment and support reminiscence, and had a positive impact on staff.
The evaluation report includes a number of recommendations, including that the CRSCH programme should further develop the use of iPads in care homes to encourage new forms of social interaction, and it adopts a more personalised a flexible approach to the technology.
Other steps could include creating a community of practice to exchange knowledge on the subjects, developing the role of activity and wellbeing coordinators, and understanding the specific technology needs of care homes in deprived areas.
Gibson commented: “Our findings demonstrate that care home residents and staff have particular support needs and face specific challenges with accessing and using technology, but that technology use is popular among residents when provided with useable technology alongside the right training, information and support.”
He added: “Our evaluation found that the technology also upskilled staff, with those working as activity or wellbeing coordinators the most likely to embrace the technology, with the project demonstrating just how crucial these staff members are in care homes.”
The research team also found that most homes continued to use the iPads after restrictions eased to enhance the everyday experiences of their residents.