Video connecting families and social robots: from ideas to practices putting technology to work

Isabel Schwaninger*, Felix Carros, Astrid Weiss, Volker Wulf, Geraldine Fitzpatrick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Technology use is a socially embedded process, especially when it comes to older adults and care. However, the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have limited social contact to protect vulnerable groups in care homes, and even if technology use has increased in other areas, there is little known about the potential uptake of communication technology and changes in social interaction in the care context during a lasting crisis. This paper explores changes in communication technology use triggered by the pandemic at two care homes, using a qualitative diary study, online interviews and observations, and in-situ interviews within the care home with residents and workers. Our findings point to increasing use of tablets and video conference software triggered by COVID-related experiences, with implications for living and working in care homes. We also characterise the isolation experience of the residents, the workers’ concerns about the residents and changes in social interaction. We observed new areas of technology usage, associated changing work practices, technical affinity issues and context-specific attitudes towards future technologies. While the pandemic has triggered the use of communication technology in care homes on a small scale, this has also caused increasing workload and in particular articulation work, which requires support structures and the re-definition of work roles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalUniversal Access in the Information Society
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Care work
  • Communication technology
  • Configuration work
  • Diary study
  • Digital literacy
  • Robots
  • Values
  • Work roles


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