Care Strike

tricking monitoring tech to activate caring humans

A care strike is an act performed by an ageing adult to trick their main human care provider into visiting them. This is done by gaming an ageing-in-place technology in order to trigger an alarm that will notify the emergency contact (human care provider) about a health-threatening situation–such as a fall, dehydration or heart rate and blood sugar variations. We have noticed that two factors contribute to the increasing practice of care strikes:

  1. When ageing-in-place technologies are implemented, it can disrupt everyday care practices and rituals between the ageing adult and their primary human care provider. Over time, ageing adults report that while they behave more independently, they feel lonelier as their interactions with human care providers become reduced.
  2. As ageing in place adults experience their first emergencies, they begin to familiarise themselves with the settings and sensibilities of these technologies, which often need several rounds of calibration to adjust for the context and behaviour of each user. We have observed that a basic understanding and speculation about the workings of these technologies is enough to take advantage of certain limitations inherent to the sensors and algorithms that run ageing-in-place technologies.

As care strikes are becoming popular amongst users of ageing-in-place technologies, we are beginning to observe a dangerous pattern in users no longer being able to trick their devices, therefore resulting in self-provoking the symptoms or harms needed for alarms to be sent. In the following section, we provide two user stories of ageing adults that are beginning to engage in care-strike practices.