Social care policy and digital technologies


The Society Perspective is developing a suite of work focusing on caring practices at home and in communities. In light of the developments in social care policy towards at home and close to home care; personal budgets in social care; and the social and digital inclusion of older people; we consider how digital technologies might support people to stay at home for longer, and improve the care experience. Our predominant focus is on the social care of older people with chronic ill health, but includes acute end of life care at home. Caring for older people at home and in communities (paid and unpaid) is a complex situated emotional and embodied practice (Smith et al 2010; Andrews et al, 2007; Peace et al, 2007; Conradson 2006; Anderson and Smith 2001). Support can be drawn from a range of individuals and institutions for support from public, private and informal settings. Drawing on insights from economic geography, we consider the ordinary (Lee, 2006) and diverse care economies (Gibson-Graham, 2006) that structure everyday life at home and in communities. We consider ways in which home-care technologies shape and are shaped by the complex socio-economic practices and relations in diverse and uneven ways. Exploring the lived experiences and relations of care within the home and in communities, our attention moves beyond their explicit physical affordances to users to consider the wider institutional context, such as work processes, care identities and practices, including the felt experience of home-care technologies. Using mixed qualitative methods, including qualitative interviews, in collaboration with HCI, experience-centred design and other disciplines within SiDE, the social science perspective aims to identify the socio-spatial and emotional implications of home care technologies to inform technological developments which might enrich and transform the life-worlds of older people and carers at home and in communities.

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