Peace of mind: A community-industry-academic partnership to adapt dementia technology for Anishinaabe communities on Manitoulin Island

J Rehabil Assist Technol Eng. 2020 Sep 16;7:2055668320958327. doi: 10.1177/2055668320958327. eCollection Jan-Dec 2020.


Introduction: Aging Technologies for Indigenous Communities in Ontario (ATICON) explores the technology needs of Anishinaabe older adults in the Manitoulin region of Northern Ontario. Our program of research addresses inequitable access to supportive technologies that may allow Indigenous older adults to successfully age in place.

Methods: Using Indigenous research methodologies (IRM) and community-based participatory research (CBPR) we explored the acceptability of CareBand - a wearable location and activity monitoring device for people living with dementia using a LoRaWAN, a low-power wide-area network technology. We conducted key informant consultations and focus groups with Anishinaabe Elders, formal and informal caregivers, and health care providers (n = 29) in four geographically distinct regions.

Results: Overall, participants agreed that CareBand would improve caregivers' peace of mind. Our results suggest refinement of the technology is necessary to address the challenges of the rural geography and winter weather; to reconsider aesthetics; address privacy and access; and to consider the unique characteristics of Anishinaabe culture and reserve life.

Conclusion: All three partners in this research, including the Indigenous communities, industry partner, and academic researchers, benefited from the use of CBPR and IRM. As CareBand is further developed, community input will be crucial for shaping a useful and valued device.

Keywords: Indigenous; Technology; aging; dementia; focus groups.