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The Digital Support Platform: a qualitative research study investigating the feasibility of an internet-based, post-diagnostic support platform for families living with dementia.

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Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2018

Abstract

Objectives
To establish the feasibility of the Digital Support Platform (DSP), an internet-based, postdiagnostic tool designed for families living with a diagnosis of dementia.

Design
Qualitative methods using normalisation process theory as an analysis framework for semistructured interview transcriptions.

Setting
A community care setting in the South-East Scotland.

Participants
We interviewed 10 dyads of people with Alzheimer’s, vascular or mixed dementia (PWD), and their family carers, who had been given and had used the DSP for at least 2 months.

Results
Our analysis revealed that the DSP was predominantly understood and used by the carers rather than PWD, and was used alongside tools and methods they already used to care for their relative. The DSP was interpreted as a tool that may be of benefit to those experiencing later stages of dementia or with physical care needs. Carers stated that the DSP may be of benefit in the future, reflecting a disinclination to prepare for or anticipate for future needs, rather than focus on those needs present at the time of distribution. PWD spoke
positively about an interest in learning to use technology more effectively and enjoyed having their own tablet devices.

Conclusions
The DSP was not wholly appropriate for families living with dementia in its early stages. The views of carers confirmed that postdiagnostic support was valued, but emphasised the importance of tailoring this support to the exact needs and current arrangements of families. There may be a benefit to introducing,
encouraging, providing and teaching internet-enabled technology to those PWD who do not currently have access. Training should be provided when introducing new technology to PWD.

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