Assistive Technologies (ATs) - which aim to enhance the independence and safety of their recipients - have become an important aspect of social care policy in Europe, with a particularly ambitious programme of implementation in Scotland.
Technological advances mean that ATs are seen as a way of upholding a policy of 'care in situ', instead of institutional care, in a period of demographic change and escalating costs.
The proposal focuses in particular on the technologies associated with Telecare, and draws on the research expertise of the academic proposers: ethical & policy issues (Eccles), social informatics (Henwood), and the experiences of technology user groups, specifically older people (Kamphof) and disabled people (Harris). All four programme team members have international standing in these areas. The team is supplemented by disability advocates / designers (Fullerton) and front line policy implementers (Gillespie).
While there is strong and wide-ranging evidence of benefit from the use of these technologies, there is a significant deficit in ethical enquiry and in our understanding of the social impact of these technologies on their end users, made more complex by a policy discourse which weaves together demographic change, dependency ratios and costs into an assumed necessity for technological solutions to care needs. There is a need for a space for alternative research paradigm. The programme will bring together technology designers, end users, care technology practitioners and social scientists with recognised international research expertise in the field to explore further the social and ethical impact of this rapidly expanding technology based care in Scotland.