TOPS: Technologies to support Older People at home: maximising personal and Social interaction

The role of new technologies in health and social care for older people is attracting increasing interest as part of government agendas for modernising public services across the UK. However, there is concern that such technology, if used to substitute for social care provision, will lead to detrimental effects due to loss of personal and social interaction with nurses and other community-based service providers. This study determined the extent and nature of personal and social interaction between health and social care professionals and older adults with chronic pain, explored the impact of telecare and telehealth technologies on these personal and social interactions for older adults experiencing chronic pain, and integrated understanding of social and personal interactions into the design and application of technologies for the management of chronic pain. The economic analysis, using a discrete choice experiment study, indicated that there was a preference for having less waiting time, more than one in-person home visit and less telecare. The additional waiting time that respondents were prepared to accept in order to receive fewer video calls suggests that, relative to in-person home visits, this mode of delivery is less preferred. We also found that respondents with chronic pain had less negative perceptions of ICT than respondents living without chronic pain.

Outcome and Translation

This study can inform the future development of telecare and telehealth technologies amongst people with chronic pain.

HERU researchers involved in this research project: Paul McNamee

External collaborators: L Philip, P Wilson, P Edwards, J Farrington (Other Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen); G Rodger (UHIMI Centre for Rural Health); F Williams (Institute of Rural Health, Wales); V Hanson (University of Dundee); P Oliver and P Wright (University of Newcastle); P Schofield (University of Greenwich)


Mort, A., McNamee, P., Philip, L., Schofield, P., Hanson, V. and Rodger, G. (2011)'TOPS: designing digital tools for personal and social interaction', Digital Engagement 2011 Conference, Newcastle, 2011.

McNamee, P. (2015) 'Attitudes and preferences for telecare in remote and rural areas: a discrete choice experiment study', Digital Health and Care Congress 2015, King's Fund, London, 16-17 June 2015.