Older people living in residential aged care facilities tend to be physically as well as socially inactive, which leads to poorer health and reduced wellbeing. A lack of recognition of the importance of social support, limited resources, lack of training and task-oriented work routines leave little time for staff to meet the social needs of residents. Through qualitative ethnographic fieldwork, this study investigates the potential for new technologies to enhance quality of life and facilitate meaningful engagement in physical and social activities among culturally and linguistically diverse residents and staff in care facilities. A continuum from nonparticipation to full participation among residents was observed when Touch Screen Technology activities were implemented. Data indicate that resident’s engagement is impacted by five interdependent factors, including environmental, organisational, caregiver, patient, and management- &government-related. Findings show that new technologies can be used to increase meaningful physical and social engagement, including transcending language and cultural barriers. However, the successful application of new technologies to enhance quality of life is dependent on their integration into the daily routine and social relationships of staff and residents, with the full support of management. Guidelines governing the use of new technologies to support meaningful engagement of older people in residential care are lacking: this project highlights the importance of attention to the social relational dimensions of technology interventions to support best practice in their use.
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