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Ageing, Technology and Home Care

Maggie Mort
Christine Milligan
Celia Roberts
et al.


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1MEDUSE was a Specific Support Action, funded by the European Commission Sixth Framework Programme, and coordinated by ARMINES-Ecole des mines (Paris, France)1. MEDUSE was conceived of as a co-operative action, involving social scientists and various stakeholders in the domain of health and medicine. At a more general level, MEDUSE contributed to a series of European actions whose objectives are to enhance collaboration between researchers and civil society organizations.

2The underpinning rationale for MEDUSE was to open up dialogue between social scientists and non-academic actors, and to conduct collective reflection on issues of high political relevance. Three issues were put on MEDUSE agenda:

  • The dynamics of patients’ organizations in Europe.
  • The emergence of new technologies and responsibilities for healthcare at home across diverse European systems and cultures.
  • Cross-national and European perspectives on health safety agencies.

3This book offers an insight into exchanges that took place during a two-day conference on the emergence of new technologies and responsibilities for healhtcare at home across diverse European systems and cultures.

4The aim of the conference was to discuss actual practices that actors are developing and problems they are confronting, and to draw on exchanges for setting a research agenda on questions that need further consideration. The conference was conceived of as a participative event. This meant that sharing of experiences between participants was priviledged. To prepare the event, the strategy used by the conference organizers included firstly a review of the ‘state of the art’ on the issue, drawing upon selected academic and ‘grey’ literature. However, the conference was not just designed to reflect the current state of knowledge, but also to identify ways in which that knowledge can be examined, exchanged, and transferred across and within different groups for whom the issue is of interest. It further aimed to identify questions which have, to date, received only limited attention. To achieve this, the conference organizers then conducted a series of focus groups gathering ten to fifteen participants around a series of themes drawn from the ‘state of the art’. These focus groups helped to draft a ‘policy paper’, mixing academic knowledge and non-academic concerns, that served as a basis for the conference. This ‘policy paper’ was circulated to participants in advance of the event. Besides, a few speakers were asked to offer introductory statements, by expanding on the ‘policy paper’.

5The conference was organized around the themes mentioned above. Each theme was introduced by speakers on a plenary session. To render the event as participative as possible, the audience was divided into three randomised discussion groups. The three groups then held discussions on the theme (the three groups run simultaneously). Each group had a facilitator, as well as a respondent whose role was to keep notes on the discussion and, close to the end of the session, to provide a summary of the content of the discussion. The facilitator then allowed a short period of time for participants to comment on the summary.

6These sessions were extremely successful. The discussions tended to produce interesting examples and counter-examples relating to the themes under discussion. The discussions were always lively and stimulating, and meant that participants eventually met everyone at the event, thus facilitating the best possible sharing of ideas across disciplines, nationalities and backgrounds. The conference ended up with a closing plenary session, in which all participants were given the opportunity to reflect on what they had learned from each other in the groups and from the plenary presentations, and to think about how they might take this learning into their own work. Many participants claimed to have encountered new ideas at the conference, and to feel inspired to take ideas back into their practices.

7Permission was requested from participants to digitally record the sessions and to use quotations from these recordings in this book, if appropriate. We would like to address our warmest thanks to them all, for their enthusiasm an invaluable inputs.

8This event was organised by Maggie Mort, Celia Roberts & Christine Milligan, Lancaster University UK, for the European Commission Sixth Framework Programme Specific Support Action, MEDUSE (Governance, Health & Medicine. Opening dialogue between social scientists and users).

9It was held in cooperation with the Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam and Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, supported by NWO ‘Ethiek, Onderzoek & Bestuur’. Our particular thanks go the Josephine Baxter and Jeannette Pols for their invaluable assistance.

10We would also like to note our thanks and acknowledgement of the substantial contribution made to this book by Dr Cathy Baile

© Presses des Mines, 2008

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