The Swiss older adult population, aged 65 years or older, stands at 18%, representing 1.5 million older persons in the country. The demographic challenges brought mostly by an ageing population imply that the old-age dependency ratio is a major concern. The increasing number of older adults mean more healthcare demands, greater healthcare costs, and high caregiving burden. Our society today faces a difficult situation where we find it hard to address the needs of the rising number of older persons. One of the proposed solutions to remedy this alarming situation is smart home health technology. These technologies could help decrease costs of maintaining older people and securing their safety both at home and in institutions. However, many social and ethical issues have been raised with the use of such technologies, amongst others, informed consent/autonomy, privacy, data safety, gaps in information and support about use and access to smart home technologies; and fears that such technology may replace the much needed human contact. To the best of our knowledge, little is known on how the Swiss population views the acceptance of smart home health technologies for elder care.
Thus our project, RESOURCE, will critically evaluate the knowledge, willingness, and concerns associated with the use of smart home technologies in the care of older persons, particularly, the ethical and social concerns. The project has three specific objectives and uses mixed-method approach coupled with normative-empirical analysis. Module 1 includes qualitative methods where we will first capture the knowledge, attitudes, and wishes of the direct end-users (the older persons at home or in nursing homes) and their caregivers (both family members and healthcare professionals). Module 2 includes population survey based in the findings of the previous module and available literature to derive generalizable knowledge from the Swiss population. In this module we will gather representative data about the Swiss population’s knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of smart home solutions in the care of older persons. Furthermore, the key ethical and social findings from the above two modules will feed into our normative-empirical analysis (Module 3), where the goal is to refine recommendations evident from the empirical parts and adapts ethical frameworks proposed by other scholars to the realities of Switzerland.