Background: Home care service provision faces several challenges. As a result of policies prioritising home care over care homes, home care service providers have been confronted with more difficult care settings. In addition, many countries experience staff shortages, which also implies that experienced care staff are restricted in the number of team members they can support on site, particularly in rural areas. The aging of baby boomers will only worsen this situation. As part of the European project "Care about Care", we are developing and evaluating an innovative remote assistance system for home care service provision. Care workers are equipped with mixed-reality glasses to receive support from experienced colleagues in care expert centres. By sharing visual information, they can assess and work on solutions for difficult situations in home care service users' homes.
Objectives: This paper presents the results of a pilot field trial of the first prototype of the remote care assistance system. It particularly focuses on functionality, user experience, and the expected impact of the remote care assistance system on home care service provision.
Methods: Data was collected in a pilot field trial in a region in Lower Austria (Austria) in March 2022. We use more than 50 personal semi-standardised observations and 9 qualitative interviews with care staff who (i) used the mixed-reality glasses (HoloLense 2) or (ii) who worked in the care expert centre and used the newly developed software on their computers.
Results: First results show various use cases for the digital remote support system in home care settings. They also provide insight into the factors needed for a successful integration into existing workflows and processes. Finally, we discuss the potential of digital remote support and starting points for improvements in technical development and organizational implementation.
Conclusions: Successful technical and organizational implementation of remote support systems for care workers in home care settings opens up opportunities for increased and improved collaboration and communication among caregivers. Above all, such remote assistant systems may also have the potential to provide more service users with special expert knowledge (e.g., wound management) as time-consuming travel times can be reduced.