The ethical evaluation of assistive technology for practitioners: a checklist arising from a participatory study with people with dementia, family and professionals

Beatrice Godwin (Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath, Bath, UK)

Journal of Assistive Technologies

ISSN: 1754-9450

Publication date: 15 June 2012

Abstract

Purpose

Uncertainty over ethical impact may hinder uptake of assistive technology (AT) in dementia. This study aims to examine whether AT contributes to person‐centred care, whether users can participate in research and to explore ethical dilemmas with users, family and professional carers.

Design/methodology/approach

People with dementia, at home or in residential care, and carers were allocated equipment and consulted about ethics. In a small, qualitative study, data were collected using semi‐structured interviews and vignettes and content‐analysed to establish themes.

Findings

AT in person‐centred dementia care requires meticulous assessment, reliability and availability in rapidly evolving situations. Users displayed insight, logic and empathy in ethical evaluation. They disliked remote monitoring and surveillance, whereas carers were pragmatic, prioritising safety.

Research limitations/implications

This research provides further evidence that users with dementia can be included in research. It demonstrates a significant potential role for AT in dementia care, with an ethical checklist to help professionals evaluate ethical dilemmas.

Originality/value

AT potentially increases wellbeing, enabling users to remain longer at home, delaying or avoiding moves to or between homes.

Keywords

Citation

Godwin, B. (2012), "The ethical evaluation of assistive technology for practitioners: a checklist arising from a participatory study with people with dementia, family and professionals", Journal of Assistive Technologies, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 123-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/17549451211234975

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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