Design and Development of Caregiver User Personas: A Deeper Understanding on Formal and Informal Caregivers’ Reality

The Lab of Medical Physics (and Digital Innovation) of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the 5th Regional Health Authority of Thessaly & Sterea in Larissa Greece, both recognized as reference sites in the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP on AHA) by the European Commission, joined forces aiming at exploring and identifying formal and informal caregivers’ needs, concerns and behavioral patterns in order to illustrate a detailed representation of their reality. This venture was implemented under the scope of the Η2020 SHAPES project focusing on facilitating long-term healthy and active ageing of older adults through the deployment of a large-scale, EU-standardised open platform. 

In this context, two user personas were developed; the formal caregiver ‘’Daphne’’ (Image 1) and the informal caregiver ‘’Elle’’ (Image 2). In particular, Daphne is a 45-year-old nurse, who works the last 6 years in a Nursing Home, in which a Daycare Center for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/RD) is operating. She wants to be able to address unique patients’ care giving needs and better cope with the identification and management of AD/RD symptoms. She also considers important to receive sufficient training in her workplace in order to enhance her flexibility to adapt to a variety of settings and situations, become more robust against the stress and anxiety that she is often confronted with, and, therefore, ensure that she provides the best quality of patient care. On the other side, Elle is a 73-years-old woman that provides caregiving for her 85-year-old husband, who suffers from a number of serious health problems. Elle wants to sufficiently communicate and connect with healthcare professionals, including social workers and psychologist, and receive help and support from local authorities to strengthen both hers and her husbands’ physical and mental health.

User personas, widely exploited within the user-centered design (UCD), constitute a detailed fictional representation of individuals and facilitate better focus on primary users’ behavioural patterns and needs. The method followed for the personas development process was in accordance with the traditional persona research, development and validation process combining both quantitative analysis of questionnaire data collected from Greek populations with qualitative methods during the period of 2018 and 2021. However, the exact methodology applied was adjusted by taking into consideration the distinct attributes and needs of the two target groups respectively. User personas were developed, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the user target group, apprehend user expectations, experiences and anticipated behaviors beyond demographics, and, therefore, build empathy patterns among end-users. Furthermore, they offer the potential to ‘’humanize’’ and replace quantitative data with people-based data reflections that individuals inherently empathize with. Therefore, articulate user personas form useful, rounded and realistic representations of the underlying target group that exist in real life and provide empathetic and expansive benefits.

Overall, this venture aims to enhance knowledge and insights on formal and informal caregivers’ key motivations, concerns and interests and apprehend their preferences and experiences through the design and development of user personas. These user personas set the basis for the development of personalized and accessible digital solutions and services tailored to caregivers’ reality. To this end, they could potentially provide empathetic and expansive benefits and be exploited as artifacts in attempting to successfully liaise with policy-makers and care providers and aligning key strategies and policies that will efficiently improve the quality of life of both care recipients and caregivers.

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