A groupware tool to facilitate caregiving for home-dwelling frail older persons in the Netherlands: mixed-methods study

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Background: Collaboration among informal and formal caregivers in a mixed care network of home-dwelling elderly may benefit from using a groupware app for digital networked communication (DNC).

Objective: This study aimed to describe and explain differences in the use and evaluation of a DNC app by members of the care network and to come up with a list of conditions that facilitate (or restrict) the implementation of a DNC app by a home care organization.

Methods: A pilot study collected information on digital communication in 7 care networks of clients of a home care organization in the Netherlands. Semistructured interviews with 4 care recipients, 7 informal carers (of which 3 spoke on behalf of the care receiver as well on account of receivers’ suffering from dementia), 3 district nurses, 5 auxiliary nurses, and 3 managers were conducted 3 times in a period of 6 months. In addition, we observed relevant workshops initiated by the home care organization and studied log-in data created by the users of the DNC app.

Results: The qualitative data and the monthly retrieved quantitative log-in data revealed 3 types of digital care networks: arranging the care network, discuss the care network, and staying connected network. Differences between network types were attributed to health impairment and digital illiteracy of the care recipients, motivation of informal caregivers, and commitment of formal caregivers. The easy availability of up-to-date information, the ability to promote a sense of safety for the carers, and short communication lines in case of complex care situations were positively evaluated.

Conclusions: It is concluded that digital communication is beneficial for organizing and discussing the care within a care network. More research is needed to study its impact on care burden of informal carers, on quality of care, and on quality of life of home-dwelling frail older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10697
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJMIR Aging
Issue number2
Early online date7 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


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