Mobile technology and applications offer a new approach to personalised care for older people. Hear Me Now (HMN), developed by Maldaba Ltd, is an application for smartphones and tablets. Although originally conceived and co-produced by individuals with learning disabilities and their supporters, anecdotal evidence from specialist practitioners indicated that older people with chronic health conditions and frailty might also benefit from use of the HMN app. This feasibility study sought to explore whether older people could use the HMN app and examine their usage. The aim of this feasibility study was to explore whether older people could use HMN and to examine their usage of this application.
A purposive sample of six individuals (M = 4; F = 2) aged between 65 and 90 years was recruited for the study. Following training, the participants used HMN at home for different purposes over three months. Concurrently, the participants took part in an online interview every three weeks (N = 5 interviews). They also completed the Task Load Index (NASA-TLX) questionnaire during Weeks 1 and 12 and the system usability scale during Week 12 to assess usability of HMN.
The participants used the HMN app for a range of purposes and indicated that their confidence and skills increased when using HMN. Though the participants reported diverse experiences of using HMN for different purposes, it was clear the majority considered this app helpful in managing daily life and their health conditions; however, they also experienced barriers in its use such as dexterity and visual problems.
This is a small feasibility study that was restricted to older people using the HMN app. Though valuable insights were obtained from the participants, the evidence that older people could use HMN to support their personal activities and to self-manage health conditions remains anecdotal. Further research is therefore warranted following adaptation of HMN for use by older people.
This study indicates that patient self-management apps such as HMN have the potential to enable older adults with long-term health conditions to play an active role in managing their condition.
The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of the participants for using the mobile application and they thank them for sharing their insights and views of HMN. Authors also thank Parkinson’s UK for support in recruitment to this study. Many thanks to Lorenzo Gordon and Huw Jones for the opportunity to work with Maldaba Ltd. (www.maldaba.co.uk/).
The funding provided by the Research England Development Fund was much appreciated.
Cook, G., Hand, A., Wales, J. and Kirton, A. (2022), "Older people’s perceptions and self-reported usage of the mobile app, “Hear Me Now”: a feasibility study", Working with Older People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/WWOP-03-2022-0010
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