Deakin University

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Lessons learnt from a community-driven digital social connection pilot program for people living with dementia: A qualitative interview study with key stakeholders

journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-09, 04:33 authored by C Gibson, Mark YatesMark Yates, KJ Moore
Introduction: In response to COVID-19 and mandated physical distancing, a new digital social connection program was developed and implemented by the local community in a large regional town in western Victoria, Australia. This pilot program, the Digital Inclusion-Social Connections (DI-SC) program, aimed to support people living with dementia to use a digital device to access social connection activities. Objective: The objective of this study is to inform the local community implementing the DI-SC program of key stakeholder experience of DI-SC process and outcomes to support future development and potential translation of digital social connections programs for people living with dementia. Design: Three semi-structured focus groups and two interviews were conducted with a total of fifteen participants. Data was transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed. Findings: Three main themes were identified describing factors as influencing the process and outcomes of the DI-SC program: understanding dementia; personal choice and control; and service planning and coordination. Six sub-themes were identified: matching capability; establishing a relationship; creating opportunities for different interactions; ownership of the device, program coordination and defining the volunteer digital mentor role. Conclusion: Key stakeholders perceived the DI-SC program as an acceptable way of supporting people living with dementia to engage in activities they found enjoyable promoting social connection with care partners and others. DI-SC program outcomes were impacted by inappropriate training and a lack of program coordination. The findings of this study may inform future development and implementation of digital social connection programs for vulnerable populations at risk of social isolation.



Australian Journal of Rural Health