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Doctoral project: Unpacking the Welfare Technology Solution Discourse

The overarching aim of the project was to examine how the welfare technology solution discourse can provide insights into society’s views of formal and informal care for older people.

Project information

Unpacking the Welfare Technology Solution Discourse: An analysis of society’s perceptions of formal and informal care of older people
Doctoral student

Maria Nilsson
Main supervisor
Elizabeth Hanson
Lennart Magnusson, Stefan Andersson
Participating organisations

Linnaeus University, The Swedish Family Care Competence Centre (Nationellt kompetenscentrum anhöriga)
Project start
1 April 2018
Project completed
16 June 2023
Health science (Department of Health and Caring Sciences, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)

More about the project

The following research questions guided the project:

  1. What are the major driving forces in research and policy for implementing welfare technology within care for older people? 

  2. What subject positions become available for older people with health and/or care needs and their informal carers following that discourse?

  3. In what way/s are the concepts of health of older people and formal and informal care for older people constructed within the discourse?

  4. What potential consequences for older people and their informal carers can be identified following the welfare technology solution discourse?


The Doctoral project was based on 4 studies:

Study I was a comprehensive literature review that provided an overview of international research in the field of welfare technology for older people and their informal carers. We examined the scope and nature of these interventions. We also assessed whether these interventions aligned with the goals and objectives outlined in the World Health Organization framework for Healthy Aging and to what extent informal carers were included.

In Study II, we turned the focus to Swedish local context. Local policy documents within the municipalities’ health and social care sector, including strategy documents for support for informal carers, were reviewed in an analysis of policy. The aim was to critically interrogate the “welfare technology solution”-discourse in local Swedish health and social care policy. We focused particularly on how the group of older people and informal carers were understood in policy, and how the concept of health was understood and interpreted within the policies.

Study III continued in the local context, with interviews with local politicians chairing the health and social care boards. The aim was to examine local politicians’ assumptions and perceptions regarding care for older people and support for their informal carers via welfare technology.

Study IV moved to a regional context with focus groups. The focus groups consisted of representatives of district boards of the Pensioners' National Organization (PRO) and SPF seniors (SPF). The aim of the final study was to understand how representatives from the two largest pensioners’ organisations in Sweden viewed and developed their stance on the adoption and use of welfare technology in the healthcare and social care sectors for their members, both in the role of care recipients and as informal carers.

Link to fulltext: http://lnu.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:1758316

The doctoral project is part of the research at The Swedish Family Care Competence Centre (SFCCC) and the research programme Sustainable Care: Connecting People and Systems. Maria Nilsson is a member of the Early Career Researchers network, supported by Sustainable Care and the recently formed Centre for Care, University of Sheffield.