Reframing telecare: an ethical discussion concerning ageing-in-place, independence and care. Daniel López

November 27, 2009

“Innovative health technologies: health systems in transition Workshop”

Supported by: Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3)

Organized by: Francisco Lupiáñez-Villanueva (Internet Interdisciplinary Institute –UOC) and Michael Hardey (Hull/York Medical School – Science and Technology Studies Unit, Department of Sociology, University of York)

Data: 27th November

Place: UOC IN3 building. Av. Canal Olímpic, s/n. Edifici B3, 08860 Castelldefels (Barcelona)

Daniel López presentation: Reframing telecare: an ethical discussion concerning ageing-in-place, independence and care.

Telecare has been presented by policy-makers and developers as a simple and cheap technology that enable ageing-in-place with autonomy. The aim of this presentation is to critically discuss what ageing-in-place with autonomy mean for elderly people using telecare. According to some results from ethnography conducted 4 years ago in a catalan telecare service, there are different ways of being autonomous enacted and, given that, also different conceptions of the body and of living at home. By presenting these complexities we want to put forward several ethical questions concerning the current telecare developments. First of all, what new arrangements, practices, collectives and relationships of care arise with the implementation of telecare and smart home systems in care for older people? How do these arrangements shape existing care practices? What definitions of care, and good care, are implied and embodied in the new care arrangements? How do these built-in definitions and normativities differ from and change existing practice? What implications do they have for the meanings of place, distance and home in care? These questions, among other, are being discussed in a FP7 project currently carried out by different research teams in Barcelona, Lancaster, Amsterdam and Oslo and coordinated by Maggie Mort. So in order to conclude, I would like to present these questions and make some remarks based on some insights taken from the current fieldwork and from the former research projects.

Daniel López

Assistant Professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Currently working on the implementation of new technologies in care settings like Home Telecare from an STS perspective. The main areas of interest are: a) the emergence of new spatialities and temporalities of care; b) the emergence of new practices of caring and security due to the increasing importance of technologies of accountability; and c) the enactment of hybrid forms of autonomy and independence. Currently involved in an FP7 project called “Ethical Frameworks for Telecare Technologies for older people at home (EFORTT) concerned with the implications of the introduction of remote care technologies worn, installed or embedded in the homes of older citizens/frail older people (see and also a project funded by the Ministerio called CONDEPCIU concerned with the techno-scientific controversies around the new Spanish care policies addressed to elderly/frail people.