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The promises and the reality of smart, digital telecare in England

Phoebe Stirling (Darwin College, Cambridge, UK)
Gemma Burgess (Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

Housing, Care and Support

ISSN: 1460-8790

Article publication date: 3 October 2021

Issue publication date: 15 October 2021




This paper asks how the introduction of “smart” digital technologies might affect the goals that can be attributed to telecare for older people, by those coordinating its provision.


A total of 29 in-depth, qualitative interviews were conducted with local authorities, housing associations and other organisations coordinating smart telecare provision, as well as telecare manufacturers and suppliers. Interviews were analysed by using qualitative thematic analysis.


The analysis reveals discrepancies between the goals and outcomes of smart telecare provision, according to those coordinating service delivery. This study concludes that the goal for smart telecare to be preventative and cost-efficient may be complicated by various organisational and operational challenges associated with coordinating provision.


New, “smart” telecare technology for older people stands apart from earlier, user-activated or automatic devices. It may have distinct and under-researched organisational and ethical implications.



The authors are grateful for the support of the Dunhill Medical Trust and input from research participants.

Funding: This work was supported by the Dunhill Medical Trust (Grant number G101084).


Stirling, P. and Burgess, G. (2021), "The promises and the reality of smart, digital telecare in England", Housing, Care and Support, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 65-79.



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