PhD Project: Deconstructing Welfare Technology Programs: Outcome Evaluation From Two Case-Studies

Gloria Ziglioli, PhD Fellow at the Department of Sociology and Social Work

Abstract: “e-health” and “welfare technology” topics as new elements of the long-term care policies in the post-modern welfare state. I simply wonder “What happens when technology is implemented as a mean for caring in the local care programs?”. To answer to that broad question, the study devotes attention toward a twofold dimension and different actors, namely the local care service staff and the care service’s users. Involving the former means stressing out how the workers percieve the role of professional expertise and experience in influencing the program’s implementation, To get deeply into the users’ perceived role of technology in their ageing, I will focus in particular on the outcomes in terms of users’ inclusion, empowerment, and health promotion. In doing so, a multiphase, qualitative dominant case study has been designed. Through this particular mixed methods approach, the inquiry will empirically look into two similar technological-driven caring programs carried out in a Norwegian and Danish miunicipality, in order to fully grasp the contextual and individual variables affecting the programs’ functioning.

Adoption of ICT in long-term care of elderly users with chronic conditions

The subject-matter of this research project is the adoption of information and communication technology in long-term care practices (LTC )- for elderly users with chronic conditions; whose trademarks of continuity, multidimensionality and temporal extension imply a broad and complex reflection also on the matter of welfare state development, in the light of the contemporary economic and social crisis.

The final work would be the result of an empirical comparison between two case-studies, the Norwegian and the Danish one, thus contributing to the debate on the use of welfare technology as a mean to support new remote care practices in the framework of the active aging and aging in place paradigms.

Before presenting few tips of my PhD research project, I would like to sum up its story, telling you why and how it was born. Indeed, it is in continuity with a previous research work, culminating in my master thesis focusing on the Norwegian welfare technology experience. Its aim was to analyze the main positive and negative implications for both the organization of local services and users, through the direct voice of some local care service operators and leaders, as well as technician developers. Such fieldwork gave rise to complex observations. Technology is and will be crucial part of the future worldwide health care services. Indeed, it opens up new opportunities, as it is supposed to give elderly the chance to preserve their autonomy and independence from the healthcare services. Although the ambitions of the government may be really high and workable, sometimes the development of welfare technology solutions in the municipalities turned out to be more demanding, due to uncertainty and poor consolidation of good practices related to the new way of providing care. Moreover, operational problems related to the functioning of technology still persist, making users and nurses frustrated. Finally, many efforts are required for balancing instrumental rationality and users’ dignity, as well as for guaranteeing greater security for the treatment of patients’ health data. Nevertheless, both the incompleteness of that research work, and the detection of significant and incremental – as well as pioneering – ICTs-driven care practices in the Scandinavian countries, has prompted new issues and different fields of investigation.

Research design and Methodology

Therefore, the structure of the PhD research project follows a multiphase case-study design, and is aimed at empirically evaluate the welfare technology programs’ outcomes in terms of end-users’ empowerment, wellbeing and health promotion in two similar context, in order
(i) to explain the complex technology-oriented programs’ processual developments, and
(ii) to find out the changes that users themselves report as relevant to their active ageing, understanding how the role of WT is perceived by users.
Without going in depth, the study is a qualitative dominant design with a multiphase structure in which each case study is constituted of a preliminary phase, P0, used for a content review of the chosen programs under study and a stakeholders’ mapping; and other subsequent three phases: P1 (quantitative), P2 (qualitative), P3 (qualitative), involving local care service agents and end-users, for serving different but complementary purposes.

About Gloria Ziglioli

I am 27 years old. I was born in Italy, in Cremona and I moved to Tuscany for studying. I took my Bachelor degree in Siena and my Master degree in Sociology and Management of Social Work at the University of Pisa. In 2017 I was an Erasmus student at the department of Health and Sport Science at the University of Agder (Grimstad), where I carried out my first research project. After achieving my Master degree I applied for the PhD position at the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Agder, where I am a PhD candidate from the 1s of September 2019.

Supervisor: Professor Alexander Ruser

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