Stakeholders’ Perceptions Sought to Inform the Development of a Low-Cost Mobile Robot for Older Adults: A Qualitative Descriptive Study

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Abstract

Creative solutions are needed to support community-dwelling older adults residing in a variety of settings including their house, apartment, or Supportive Apartment Living (SAL) to promote independence and reduce the risk of nursing home replacement. The objective of this study was to gain an understanding of older adults’ needs for physical, mental, and social activities to support the design and functionality of a low-cost mobile assistive robot. A qualitative descriptive study was designed which included three stakeholder focus groups (caregivers, clinicians, and older adults). We held three focus groups with a total of 19 participants: one with paid caregivers (n = 6), one with interdisciplinary clinicians (n = 8), and one with older adults residing in SAL (n = 5). Conventional content analysis was the analytical technique. Four themes emerged: (a) Accomplishing Everyday Tasks: activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) were important from the perspectives of all three groups for the older adults to accomplish daily, as well as the “use it or lose it” attitude of the older adults; (b) Personal Connections and Meaningful Activities: for the older adults, it was important for them to engage in socialization and leisure activities, and for the caregivers and clinicians, they work to build personal relationships with the older adults; (c) Cognitive Interventions: the clinicians provided cognitive tools (including reminders, routine and designing interventions) to older adults so they can remain as safe and independent as possible in the SAL; and (d) Safety Measures: encompassed clinicians addressing safety and injury prevention and the caregivers checking in on the older adults in their SAL apartments. This work contributed to the design and functionality specifications for an autonomous low-cost mobile robot for deployment to increase the independence of older adults.

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