Normalization of technology for social contact in a Norwegian care facility during COVID-19
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBMC Health Services Research. 2022, 22 (1), . 10.1186/s12913-022-08618-7
Background The COVID-19 pandemic has seen unprecedented growth in the use of interactive technologies in care facilities for social contact between residents and their close contacts due to the need for social distancing. As the pandemic is transitioning into a new phase, there is a need to critically examine the new practices associated with technology usage. Objective Our analysis is based on a case study of how a care facility in western Norway adopted a novel technology called KOMP. We empirically investigate the stability of practices with KOMP for maintaining social communication between residents and their relatives and consider whether these practices are likely to last beyond the pandemic. We draw on normalization process theory (NPT) to interpret our findings and critically examine how stable embedding of new technologies for social communication occurs under extraordinary circumstances. Methods We conducted a case study based on participant observation and interviews, and the data were analyzed through inductive thematic analysis. Participants are health care professionals from a public care facility in western Norway. Results Four major themes emerged from the data. The first revolved around the pressing need for communications between residents and relatives with a suitable tool. Second, staff showed engagement through motivation to learn and adapt the technology in their practices. A third theme centered on how staff and the organization could work effectively to embed KOMP in daily practice. Our fourth theme suggested that the professionals continuously assessed their own use of the technology. Conclusion From the perspective of NPT, practices with KOMP have been partially embedded by developing a shared understanding, engaging through cognitive participation, working collectively with staff and the organization, and reflexively monitoring the benefits of using KOMP. However, staff engagement with the technology was continuously threatened by factors related to diverging staff preferences, the burden of facilitating KOMP for residents with impaired cognitive and physical abilities, issues of privacy and ethics, and the technical skills of the residents’ relatives. Our analysis suggests that caring practices via KOMP have become relatively stable despite barriers to engagement and are therefore likely to persist beyond the pandemic.