Awareness and information needs relating to Assistive Technologies among people with dementia, carers and General Practitioners; A qualitative study

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The problem

Current UK policy has resulted in a shift of responsibility of care of people with dementia to primary care. In the UK 850,000 people live with dementia, two thirds of these live at home with the support of 670,000 carers and at an overall cost to the economy of £26 billion per year. One proposed solution to maintain people in their home environment for as long as possible is Assistive Technology (AT). AT encompasses a wide range of technological solutions to problems people with dementia encounter in their everyday lives from simple devices such as clocks to aid orientation to futuristic smart homes which use integrated “high-tech” sensors to monitor and/or control temperature, gas, flood or movement. General Practitioners (GPs) are a key source of information for people with dementia and carers, despite this there is little research with GPs or with people with dementia and carers exploring levels of awareness regarding AT and its implementation in dementia care. This presentation explores levels of awareness and accessibility regarding AT in dementia care.

The approach

Qualitative semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 17 GPs (GP trainees and GPs with commissioning role) and 13 people with dementia and 26 carers to explore levels of awareness of AT and experience of accessing AT in the North East of England. Interviews involving GPs covered a geographical region involving four different clinical commissioning groups. Interview schedules for each group were developed and piloted based on the findings from a literature review. It was anticipated participants might not be aware of the term AT, therefore to facilitate discussion pictures of AT were shown to participants. Interviews were transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis.


There is a lack of awareness of the use of AT in dementia care in both GPs and people with dementia and carers. Knowledge among GP’s regarding AT provision was limited; they were unclear on where to get information on AT, how to refer patients into AT services or who should commission AT. GPs acknowledged that AT “was not on their radar”. People with dementia and carers identified key barriers to awareness and accessibility including a lack of knowledge regarding AT devices or referral pathways and difficulties with accessing information about AT products and their costs.Consequence Despite attempts to ‘mainstream’ AT services for people with dementia within the UK, awareness of AT among GPs and people with dementia and carers remains low. In order to integrate AT into routine dementia care a number of barriers must be overcome including improving information provision regarding AT used in dementia care and associated costs to people with dementia, raising awareness of AT referral pathways and ensuring clarity of who commissions AT services.


  • Lisa Newton
  • Claire Dickinson
  • Grant Gibson
  • Katie Brittain
  • Louise Robinson