CommunityNet: Mediating Care at the Local Community Level
Community care is expected to be increasingly important for seniors in need of support towards prolonged independent living and higher quality of life. Whereas people generally indicate they are willing to provide support within their community, several barriers prevent elderly people from asking for support. The present paper describes the design of CommunityNet, a social network service that aims to bring together the local community and to lower the barriers towards asking for help. Based on the findings from user research, ambient awareness displays were developed and placed in the homes of seniors and local community members. The awareness displays showed an overview of the people, their requests for help, and the status of the requests. The concept was evaluated in a field trial (n=4, 10 days). The participants indicated that they preferred using CommunityNet compared to face-to-face contact and telephone when the need for support was not urgent. According to the participants, the barriers towards asking for help were lowered by the system. As a next step, an automated match-maker mechanism will be developed which enables people to extend their care network, and the system will be tested in a range of communities.
KeywordsIndependent living community care social network awareness display communication system peer-to-peer field trial
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