AN EXPLORATORY SECONDARY DATA ANALYSIS OF THE IMPACT OF HETEROGENEITY ON ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE SAFETY AND WANDERING RISKS FOR PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA LIVING AT HOME
Introduction: There is an acknowledged gap between the potential and achieved benefit of assistive technology in the care of people with dementia. In order to make better use of this resource, this research aimed to investigate the heterogeneity of population characteristics of people with dementia living at home who have safety and wandering risks and how this is related to assistive technology recommended and installed to meet their needs. Methods: This research consisted of two studies; a systematic review and secondary data analysis. Initially, published quantitative data describing the needs of people with dementia living at home was subjected to meta-analysis in order to explore the prevalence of needs reported by people with dementia and their caregivers and associated heterogeneity. Following univariate analyses, ordinal models were developed using secondary data which described the needs of people with dementia, and their level of wandering and safety risk, to explore the relationship between needs and risks in this population. The possibility of grouping participants according to data describing multiple needs, predisposing characteristics and enabling resources was investigated using cluster analysis. Associations between these groups and recommended and installed Assistive Technology were investigated. Results: Prevalence estimates for twenty-four needs reported by people with dementia and their caregivers were provided for the first time. Heterogeneity was associated with the person reporting the needs and age of onset. Level of need was often not recorded in the dataset indicating limited assessment. Wandering risks were shown to be associated with posture and mobility, routine and cognition needs, whilst safety risks were associated with posture and mobility, and problem-solving needs. Partitioning Around Medoids cluster analysis demonstrated that robust clustering solutions could be created from data describing participants. Clustering solutions were then validated through exploring their association with recommended and installed Assistive Technology data and the published literature. Caregiver support and living situation impact Assistive Technology installed for people with dementia. Discussion: This research advances understanding of the impact that needs, safety and wandering risks, caregiver support and the living situation of the person with dementia have on variation in the assistive technology interventions recommended and installed for people with dementia. Results have implications for needs assessment and for the tailoring of Assistive Technology for this population. Keywords: dementia, assistive technology, community dwelling, meta-analysis, cluster analysis, ordinal regression, wandering, safety, risk, needs.