ORCID

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The use of smart speakers to improve well-being had been trialed in social care by others; however, we were not aware of their implementation in most care homes across a region in the Southwest of the United Kingdom. For the widespread adoption of new technology, it must be locally demonstrable and become normalized. OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to install smart speakers in care homes in a rural and coastal region and to explore if and how the devices were being used, the barriers to their implementation, and their potential benefits. METHODS

Email, workshops, drop-in sessions, phone, and cold calling was used to contact all 230 care homes, offering a free smart speaker and some advisory support. Care homes accepting the devices were asked to complete a feedback diary. Nonresponse rate for diary completion was high and was thus supplemented with a telephone survey. RESULTS

Over the course of 7 months, we installed 156 devices in 92 care homes for older people, 50 devices for people with physical or mental health needs, and 8 for others. The devices were used mainly for music but also for poetry, recipes, light controls, jokes, and video calls. Care home managers reported the benefits for the residents, including enhanced engagement with home activities, enjoyment, calming effects, and the acquisition of new skills. Implementation problems included internet connectivity, staff capacity, and skills. CONCLUSIONS

Affordable consumer devices such as smart speakers should be installed in all care homes to benefit residents. Voice-activated technologies are easy to use and promote interaction. This study indicates that implementation in care homes was possible and that smart speakers had multifaceted benefits for residents and staff. Most care homes in this region now use smart speakers for their residents, thereby normalizing this practice.

DOI

10.2196/26767

Publication Date

2021-11-18

Publication Title

Journal of Medical Internet Research

Volume

23

Issue

12

ISSN

1439-4456

Embargo Period

2022-02-12

Organisational Unit

School of Nursing and Midwifery

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