University of St Andrews

Homes that Care – new project launch

Monday 29 July 2019

Dr Louise Reid and Dr Benet Reid (no relation!) have recently started work in a new area 'Homes that Care'. Funded by Louise's RSE/Scottish Government Research Sabbatical and The Carnegie Trust's Research Incentive Grant, Louise and Benet will be exploring how smart digital technologies are being used to promote health in homes in Scotland.

As the everyday business of being well or unwell is becoming less exclusively a matter dealt with in hospitals and clinics, there are great expectations for smart digital technologies that enable new ways for us to think about and keep track of our own health. ‘Digital Health’ is consequently among the fastest-growing industries in history. This phenomenal change will particularly affect how people live their lives at home –instead of caring for our homes, our homes may soon be caring for us.

The Scottish government has been quick to embrace digital health, and recently announced a strategy for digital health and care with the intention to make the country a world-leader in this area. Research around digital health technologies is being driven most strongly by commercial and technological interests in innovation, by possibilities for cost-efficiency in public spending, and by projected improved outcomes for particular, often chronic, illnesses. Much less attention is being paid to the experiences and practicalities of living routinely in Health-Smart Homes (HSH).

In this research project we will focus attention on the human aspects of living with digital health technologies in the home. The meanings and understandings of ‘home’ amongst people who work on HSHs will be of great interest to many as we discover how health-smart technologies are imagined, accepted and incorporated, resisted or subverted within homes, and how they are valued by those who use them. Our findings will contribute towards informing better design of future technologies, and also allow us to think more broadly about how experiences of living are likely to be affected by the agenda for Digital Health.

Our project has three stages: first we will record, explore and analyse the perspectives on HSHs of policymakers and practitioners; second, we will record the different kinds of HSHs that currently exist in Scotland; third, we will investigate the experiences of people living in HSHs. This work will allow us to have better conversations about HSHs, with well-informed understandings of the benefits and difficulties of these technologies.