Networked carers: Digital exclusion or digital empowerment?
Given the current ageing population, by 2025, there will be over 1 million people with dementia in the UK. Large numbers of people provide informal care to people with dementia. The economic, social and psychological needs of carers of people with dementia can be huge. The networked society oﬀers theoretical beneﬁts to these carers, but also potential threats. In this chapter, these issues are examined with reference to previous studies of networked interventions to support carers of people with dementia. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can support the expert carer to become informed, engage with others and organise socially and politically; the removal of traditional access barriers can reduce the isolation of carers through facilitating interaction with peers for social support, and with health, social and commercial organisations for the remote delivery of services; remote monitoring can allow caring at a distance and can provide visual and geographical monitoring as well as being linked to assistive devices and smart home technology. However, problems can be created through such issues as digital exclusion, digital abuse, depersonalisation and threats to privacy.