Aged Care: Social Network Platforms Service Support

Aged Care Social Network Platforms Service Support: Most developed countries currently face a demographic change towards an ageing society. In this respect, the so-called transition age between 60 and 75 is crucial for individual health and wellbeing, since it usually is connected with the transition from work life to retirement.

Keywords: Online Social Networks; Service Network Platforms; Elderly People; Service Description and Retrieval, Healthcare Organisation, Aged Care, NDIS

This leads to a fundamental change in daily routines and social life, often causing mental or physical health problems. Aged Care, social network platforms service to support have been studied for some time already as a means for supporting the social inclusion of elderly people. On the other hand, by healthcare providers and welfare organisations, an increasing number of support services for elderly people are or will be provided also online in the future. However, the combination of both aspects in order to provide a more holistic online support for elderly people, in particular those between 55-75, has not been discussed so far.

Aged Care Social Network Platforms. Australia’s population is projected to increase to more than 38 million by 2060, more than 15 million above the population in 2012. While significant variations are possible around that estimate, it is unlikely that the population would be less than 34 million or more than 42 million. Notwithstanding the large projected increase in the population level, population growth rates are projected to fall over time, halving from 2012 to 2060. The transition from working life to retirement and therefore marks the transition between working life. The shift in Australia’s demographic profile poses significant challenges for the government, healthcare providers, and society at large. Using the possibility to provide services for elderly users online can help to reduce these costs and provide them faster and independently from time and place.

It is also necessary to keep the elderly functional, both in a cognitive and physical way, and active in society. Emotional support from social networks can keep elderly people functionally capable especially because social integration is essential to satisfy basic human needs like being loved and the need to belong. Communication and exchange with other elderly people, friends, and especially family members can help to form a feeling of social connectedness and expand their social contacts. The development of Online Social Networks has further increased opportunities for social contact and enables users to interact and collaborate with others as part of on-going social dialogue.

However, the benefits for elderly users of using a social or a service network are limited to the purpose of the certain type of network. A combination of both online network types can enhance the benefits of using online networks.

Aged Care Australia: Social Network Platforms for better Service Support

Due to the fact that elderly people easily feel socially excluded, many authors emphasise the importance of online social network sites. They provide a context within which different individuals are able to interact with each other and be socially connected. Current social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In are more likely to be used for the maintenance of already existing ties, although they generally allow the creation of totally new online ties. The more general usage is from offline to online, therefore online social networks can help to strengthen and intensify people’s offline relationships. In addition, studies of co-located communities that are supported by online networks have shown that computer-mediated actions have a positive effect on the interaction and involvement within the community. To benefit from the usage of online social networks, elderly users must use these networks, not only to stay in contact with already existing ties but to connect with users they do not know. Different studies show that a lot of elderly users do not see the purpose or benefit of using social networks. Suggesting that the existing social networks do not seem to fit the everyday communication of elderly users. Other reasons for not using online social networks are safety concerns and user interfaces that do not fit the requirements of elderly users.

Online service networks on the other do not aim to connect users on a social basis but deliver services online. Recent online service networks like eBay, Amazon and Alibaba not only deliver services and products to users but also provide possibilities for active participation in selling and offering products or services online. They do not only focus on the possibilities to retrieve services, but these networks also support interpersonal relations and interactions, occurring during and after product and service sales. In this way, online service networks are able to connect people who do not know each other based on similar interests in products or services. Still, after a product or service was purchased and there are no discrepancies to discuss there is no communication necessary. This is because the original idea of service networks is to sell products or services, not to get in contact with other users.

Aged Care Social Network Platforms

Aged Care Social Network Platforms

The possibility of social exclusion can not be solved by technology yet. Existing social and service networks are not designed for elderly users regarding the user interface and functionality. Social platforms are not able to support elderly users to interact with other users they already know as well as with unknown users, based on similar interests, problems, or residence.

This is why this post presents a new approach by combining an online social network with an online service network into an integrated online social and service network to overcome the reason why elderly users do not get to know other users via online networks and provide the necessary functionalities.

Aged Care: Online Social Network Channels for local Interaction

Online social networks are platforms for interaction, communication, and collaboration between friends and family. Most online social networks are based on the possibility to create and share a user’s profile. The profile page typically contains a photo of the user, some basic information, (name, sex, age, location), and a possibility to list hobbies and favourite TV shows, books, movies, and websites. The most important feature is to find and make friends with other users of the network. These networks are based on the idea to stay in contact with people the user knows from his private life, working life, or other occasions. They do not focus on the establishment of new social ties, even though it is generally possible to be friends with members the users do not know in person.

Setting up meetings and online chat is possible but it is more likely to invite friends or users that are already known. In addition, chats are used to inform other users about events to interact with other users is necessary to get to know other people, establish new social ties, and have something on the schedule, especially for retired users.

A location or region-based network would make it easier because there are no big distances to overcome when meeting with other users. In addition, the user feels more comfortable when meeting in a surrounding they already know.

On the other hand, an online service network is a platform for describing, retrieving and partially using services online. In addition, it should enable the formation and description of composite services created by combining various other services offered by a network of different providers to form new services to address more specific needs. Such composite services may either require a central coordinator or may operate in a self-organised manner on a peer-to-peer basis. Typical actor roles in such an online service network are service consumers, providers and coordinators or network managers. However, a single user might take multiple of these roles. i.e. a user might be a service consumer as well as a provider of another service by himself. This is, in particular, true for the case of healthcare- and wellbeing-related service network for elderly people. Here some typical actors are:

Service consumers: Elderly people with a personal need for help
Service providers: E.g. physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, personal coaches and trainers, etc. as well as social or welfare organisations, but also voluntary workers etc.
Service coordinators/network managers: E.g. Employers of elderly people as well as any other organisations or persons offering healthcare services to their employees as well as any other actors taking the role of a coordinator.

In particular, in the case of voluntary workers, which play an important role in healthcare or wellbeing-related services, service consumers might be also service providers themselves. There also might be the case of the formation of composite services combining professional and voluntary service providers. In addition, both kinds of service providers also could be personal friends, contacts or relatives of service consumers.


Aged Care Providers: Increase Trust and Confidence through Social Networks

Such a personal relationship will naturally change the trust and confidence a service consumer has in a provider. Services offered by companies that are known by the users due to the fact that they are from the same city are more trusted by the users. They get the feeling that in the case of any problems they can talk to the ones who are responsible in person. Sometimes they know the services and their qualities and do not hesitate to retrieve the services.

Since these personal relationships will be represented in an online social network rather than a service network, it makes sense to combine these two in the described case of services for elderly people. This is why elderly users with the mentioned problems need a network where the social and the service parts are integrated. The social part enables them to get in contact with other users and facilitates social interaction between the users in a transition age, thus reducing the risk of social exclusion. The service components enable the trading of peer-to-peer services that are tailored for the age group. In addition, the service components enable users to meet in real life especially when it comes to the collaborative consumption of services.

To provide a possibility for elderly users to increase their social ties by getting to know new people and meeting with them based on shared interests, problems, and hobbies with a reference to their residence an integrated social and service network platform needs certain functionalities. They combine the typical functions of a social network (searching and adding other users, scheduling meetings, sharing content) with functions of service networks (retrieving, paying, and evaluating services, booking joint activities, and offering services) to give users multiple opportunities to get in contact with other users, helping each other, and share information about topics they are interested in.

To establish new social ties it is necessary to get to know other people. Like in any other social network, the first step is to get in contact online. In the integrated social and service network platform, the user can decide which users he wants to make his “Contacts”. The typical name “Friends” is avoided due to the fact that the user is also supposed to get in contact with a user he does not know or they are not friends with. In this way, the inhibition threshold to get in contact with unknown users is lower. The fact that the network is location-based makes it also easier to get to know other users in the network because, besides similar interests and other similarities, they all share the residence respectively the area of residence. In this way, the user can meet other users in their surroundings and does not have to go to a completely different region which would be time-consuming and an inhibitor for establishing new contacts.

To be able to use the functions of the integrated social and service network platform, the user has to create a profile. Due to the fact that elderly users do not like to present themselves online and their privacy concerns, very little information are mandatory. The user only has to enter an email address and select a password to be able to use the network. All additional information can be stated on a voluntary basis. In addition, users can adapt their privacy settings easily. It is possible to decide that even contacts are not able to see the profile picture, posts, or groups of the user is a member of. In this way, they can decide which users can see which information and can be sure that no one else will the information about them. This is how they feel more comfortable using this network.

Aged Care: Retrieve Services from Service Providers via Social Networks

The integrated social and service network platform provides the possibility for users to retrieve services from service providers as well as from other users. After retrieving these services, the user can pay for them and evaluate the services. More important is the possibility to get to know other users via retrieving services. The users can exchange information and details about the service and discuss the conditions of the service. Especially services, that contain personal interaction (sports courses, purchasing aid, preventative courses) are a possibility to get to know the user who offered a service. It is also possible to retrieve a service as a group (sports courses, courses of further education) offering the possibility to get to know a group of new people and an appointment on a regular basis. In this way, it becomes easier to get to know other users who share the same interest and the network provides a possibility to establish new social ties.

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To get to know other users better, share information with them, and set up meetings/appointments in real life the user has to be able to communicate with other members of the network. This is why the network offers different possibilities to communicate with other members. The user can communicate with other users in groups. They base on similar interests, professions, or other topics of interest for the users. The user can share information, messages, and file within the group. Another possibility is a private message, depending on the privacy settings they can be sent to any user or just contacts. With these private messages, the user can communicate with one other person to share information other users should not know about. A third option is a possibility to set up meetings with other users to meet in person. With the calendar function, users can set up meetings, invite other users, and administer the scheduled meetings.

In this way, the user can intensify relationships with users they already know. It is also possible to get in contact with unknown users with who they share similar interests or life situations. Groups are a good possibility to get to know new people because they provide a basis for topics to talk about and provide opportunities to meet in person.

As greater numbers of older people attempt to remain in the community, many of whom will be living in single-person households, more investment in social engagement programs will be required to prevent and reduce the frequency of social isolation and poor living conditions

Figure 1 illustrates the structure of the main start page of the integrated social and service network platform. It shows the basic functionalities. In this way, the user gets a first impression of the provided functionalities. In addition, the user finds information about which feature or function can be found in which category. Users who have more experience in using networks may not need this kind of help; they do not have to read the introduction. Less experienced users do not have to use the ‘trial and error’ method to find the functions they are looking for; they can read the introduction to get to know the functionality and structure of the network.

The described proposed benefits are in favour of integrated online services and social network platforms to support elderly people and their well-being to provide an integrated online environment, in particular, to help to bridge the gap between professional and voluntary peer-to-peer service offerings.

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About Datanova: Over the last 12 years Datanova has gained a wealth of experience working with various social service providers. All have varying requirements and localised approaches to executing and delivering care. Our collaborative approach to developing our cloud-based data systems in conjunction with our end-user community means we always evolve our systems with the direct input of the industry. Creators of FlowLogic a Case Management Solution for Social Services CRM.
Original Article was written by:
Friederike Boll, Philipp Brune*
University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm, Wileystraße 1, 89231 Neu-Ulm, Germany
Muhammad Ansari
PhD Cand. at Universiti Brunei Darussalam, & Department of Informatics, UIN Yogyakarta
Mohammad Nabil Almunawar
FBEPS-UBD, Jl.Tungku Link Gadong, BE 1410 Brunei Darussalam
Patrick Kim Cheng Low
FBEPS-UBD, Jl.Tungku Link Gadong, BE 1410 Brunei Darussalam

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