'I want him to tell me he loves me': A smart audio device, Tochie, for resident-family connection in long-term care

Int J Older People Nurs. 2023 May;18(3):e12539. doi: 10.1111/opn.12539. Epub 2023 Apr 10.


Background: Older people living in long-term care homes are particularly susceptible to loneliness and social isolation, which the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated further. 'Tochie' is a smart audio device that allows family members to remotely record and send messages, such as daily reminders and comforting recordings, to their loved ones in LTC settings. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility and acceptability of using Tochie to improve resident-family connections, and to investigate user experience, impact and lessons learned.

Methods: Participants included 10 residents, nine family members and six care staff from two LTC homes in British Columbia, Canada. A Tochie was provided to each resident to use with their family members over a 4-week intervention period. The research team provided support and gathered feedback from family members and care staff through weekly phone and email correspondence. Qualitative descriptive design was used, including pre- and post-intervention focus groups and interviews held via Zoom and phone to gather participants' experiences with Tochie. Themes were identified through thematic analysis.

Results: Three themes were identified: (1) Facilitating emotional connection, (2) Using the device in creative and personalised ways and (3) Structural challenges and supports. Based on these findings, recommendations for future research and practice are provided.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a rethinking of what it means to 'stay in touch' with loved ones in LTC settings. This study found that Tochie has opened up new opportunities for family connection and provided emotional support for residents. The results of this study offer valuable insights into the implementation of assistive technology in LTC homes to support resident care.

Keywords: connections; family; long-term care; qualitative study; technology.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • British Columbia
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care* / psychology
  • Love
  • Male
  • Pandemics

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