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Age NI know it is important for older people to have a voice. One way we do this is by helping older people be involved in research. Below is a summary of some recent work on assistive technology.

Why is this topic important?

As a population we are getting older. By 2050 the global population of older people is predicted to be twice as large as it was in 2015. With this rise, the number of people with dementia is also expected to rise from 45 million in 2013 to 136 million in 2050 and care options need to be developed to meet this need. Families often play a key role in caring for the person and more people wish to remain in their own homes. For someone with dementia this can result in risks, such as wandering out of the home. Families and carers often want to help their family member stay at home but are also concerned about their safety which can be stressful. The use of video monitoring in the home has been suggested as one way that families or carers can make sure a person is safe whilst allowing them independence. Conversations about this often bring up issues of safety and privacy and how both needs can be met.

Some work has been carried out in residential care with 87% of relatives agreeing with the use of video surveillance, 63% of staff but only 47% of residents. There had not been any work looking at the opinions of people who are being cared for, or who are caring for someone in their own homes and it is this group of people the following paper included. Twenty four people, some with dementia (2 people) and some who are family and carers of a person with dementia (22 people) discussed questions such as those below.

  • Can you describe your views on using a video camera in the home?
  • What are the three best and three worst things in having a video camera in the home?
  • What would you include if you were in charge of designing video cameras for the home?

What they found

91% thought having video cameras in the home of a person with dementia was either a ‘good idea’ or a ‘very good idea’ and 92% of people thought it was ‘appropriate’ or ‘very appropriate’. People said that the system should be easy to use and should not cause more stress or worry. People felt that family should have access to this information to ensure their family members safety but made it clear that the person living with dementia should have their rights upheld and should be given independence and privacy too.

How is this relevant for me?

It is important that these ethical issues are discussed with a wide range of people. Issues about safety and privacy may be addressed through designing technology with privacy in mind (which is called privacy by design) and opinions from those using the technology will help this process.

People with dementia sometimes make ‘living wills’ where their care preferences are included. If video surveillance was to be widely used it would be useful to think about it at this point and which is relevant to people with and without dementia.

What next?

This is a small group of people and so more work in this area would give a better idea of the issues that are important and what needs to be considered when using video surveillance in the home of people with dementia.

What role did Age NI have?


  • Facilitated recruitment for the project
  • Helped Ulster University in identifying people who might want to take part
  • Advertised study to people who may wish to take part.
  • Provided facilities for focus groups to take place in two local areas.
  • Produced a summary of the research article which is accessible to those who took part and the wider public.


View full article and authors contact details

Further information

For more information: Age NI 028 9024 5729

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