COBALT- Project Details

Research Programme

The project takes a proactive approach to engaging with end-users borne from previous experience developing, evaluating and introducing technology for older people, including those with dementia.

In this we start with the end-users – in this case older people and health and social care professionals – and work with them at all stages of the project to produce the project deliverables. This has advantages over traditional approaches which engage separately with different end-user groups or take the views of clinicians and caregivers as interchangeable with or proxies for those of older people. Our approach allows older people to participate fully and guide the direction of the research as experts as opposed to being passive research subjects or patients.

Additionally, we will work with organisations that support them to understand their decision-making processes and the concerns of front line staff who provide and support technology for older adults. The project aims to: 1) to obtain a reliable understanding of the barriers to adopting assisted living technology, including an understanding of the needs of all end-users and 2) devise, disseminate and evaluate a package of practical strategies for addressing these barriers. In brief this will be achieved in a series of work packages:

Work Package 1 Barriers to adoption (months 1-9).

Two end user groups will be sampled: (i) adults over 65 years of age (n=80), (ii) Forty staff from health and social care organisations comprising 30 frontline staff and 10 managers. Recruitment will take place in two locations (St. Andrews and Sheffield) to ensure the maximum success in recruiting representative samples. Qualitative thematic analyses will be performed on the interview data in order to extract the key barriers at each level, which will be examined within a psychological framework.


Work Package 2 Developing practical strategies (months 10-15).

In each location two subsets of participants recruited in the first phase will be invited to join members of the research team in forming Pioneer Groups to develop the practical strategies as experts. The Pioneer Groups will work in parallel to develop strategies and practical activities for overcoming barriers to adoption of ALTs within their respective peer groups – that is two groups for older people and two for health and social care staff. This is to ensure that the strategies are relevant and appropriate to the specific needs of the different user groups. We will use facilitated workshops and an iterative programme of developing, testing and refining the strategies with each group (Table B1).


Work Package 3 Dissemination programme (months 16-24).

The four Pioneer Groups will use the materials and activities developed in Phase 2 to organise and run a series of dissemination events, including combined workshops bringing all end-user groups together with industry. The activities and materials created for these events will comprise part of the project outputs for use by industry. Additionally, we will evaluate the structure and organisation of the workshops to produce a template for organising dissemination workshops fo the target end-users informed by the users themselves. Involving users at each stage of the project is intended to maximise the likelihood of success and is informed by previous experience of trying to take new technology to these end-users.

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