New Pharaon publication: Can assistive technology support social services during Covid-19 emergency? Barriers and opportunities

During the COVID-19 emergency, most domiciliary social services were suspended to avoid the risk of contagion, leaving older people at a greater risk of social isolation. Assistive technology has the potential to support the work of social professionals in promoting social inclusion and assistance of the older people. In this context, this paper aims to investigate the expectations of social operators toward assistive technology before and during the COVID-19 emergency. It also explores how the said emergency could guide us to implement social services in the future, including a discussion on the barriers to the adoption of assistive technologies. A total of 72 social professionals participated in this study comprising of three phases: two online questionnaires and one semi structured interview. In the first two phases, the two online questionnaires were administered before and during the COVID-19 emergency to 62 social professionals. In the third phase, 10 social workers were interviewed to discuss the results of the previous questionnaires to gain an in-depth understanding. The results highlight that the COVID-19 emergency is responsible for an increased perceived need of services involving telepresence, proposing a hybrid paradigm of assistance with both remote and in-presence assistance. Furthermore, the identified barriers to technology adoption are lack of organizational structure and ready-to-use technology. As for the facilitators for the technology adoption, social workers suggested investing in education and training of social professionals to reduce skepticism towards the usefulness of technology. The social professionals involved in this study highlight a generally positive view of technology in supporting their work. Finally, the lessons learned is also presented as a guideline for researchers in this field.

Access the full publication here

Fiorini, L., Rovini, E., Sorrentino, A. et al. Can assistive technology support social services during Covid-19 emergency? Barriers and opportunities. Int J Interact Des Manuf (2022).