Ida Anette Mehren have completed her Master’s Thesis in Media, Communication and Information Technology with the title Kravet om evig omstilling (EN:The requirement for eternal adjustment) at NTNU for the academic spring semester 2022.
This picture is taken by me, by the actual Touch and Play board at the “Aktiva” nursing home.
Focus for thesis
In Norway, we are facing demographic changes in the coming years in the form of an aging population that is living longer. This has a major impact on how the health and care sector works. In line with the increasing digitalization and technological development, Norwegian politicians have therefore presented welfare technology as a very central part of the solution to both the economic- and capacity challenges. This will be important as the nursing homes will be filled with older, sicker residents, who will place greater demands on care and follow-up from an already pressured healthcare service. In the work on the development of a more sustainable health and care service for the future, the notion of how care is exercised is therefore changing. This has a major impact on the health personnel’s workday as each implementation of new welfare technology acts as a process of change for the employees’ working practices. Based on that, in this study I examine how employees at public nursing homes in Norway experience the implementation of new welfare technology.
The assignment is based on a case study of a nursing home, which in this assignment will be referred to as “Aktiva.” Through in-depth interviews with four employees and a project manager at Aktivia, I will here examine their experiences related to two implementations of a digital activity board called “Touch & Play”. As the implementation of welfare technology is largely about the meeting between the user and new technology, I use the dimensional model of domestication as an analysis tool in this thesis. Furthermore, the findings presented through this study will show how employees in public nursing homes are part of a demand for perpetual restructuring through constant negotiation, opinion production and knowledge building to accommodate new work practices.
Relation to future of work
The findings presented through this thesis can be argued to have a general relevance for the municipal health service, the specialist health service, authorities and the research field on welfare technology. Beyond the health sector, the findings may also be relevant to how the implementation is generally carried out for other workplaces that handle scarce resources. Finally, the overall context in which the task is placed will be relevant for both politicians and technology developers in their further work on which types of welfare technology should be invested in nursing homes in the years to come.
Even though there is already a range of research on the implementation of welfare technology, a further essential question is which position welfare technology for activation is assigned in the network of various technological solutions and other human actors who are in the nursing home. This is an interesting question, as it is no longer a question of whether we should invest in welfare technology or not but rather a question of which technological solutions should be invested in. In light of the employees’ experiences with the activation of nursing home residents, as illustrated in the thesis, I would finally encourage further research to link its field studies to the sickest among the residents of the nursing homes. This could contribute to forming a more nuanced picture of what is termed in politics as “active elderly” and further contribute with new insight into the use of welfare technology in general in meeting future nursing home residents.
You can read the full Master’s Thesis here: