Technology may contribute to elderly people’s quality of life
Unbelievable, but true. The I-stay@home project is already at its end. After almost four years of research about the question in how far technical devices can support elderly and/or disabled people in their homes, all results could be presented during the final conference at the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU in Brussels on 24 June 2015.
About 100 participants from European politics, business and administration followed our invitation, so that project partners could make their case about in how far technical devices can support our target group in
their everyday lives and about how much the testers benefitted from the experience. As highlight of the day, the partners showed the new I-stay@home video documentary that was produced in terms of the project with the help of test participants and project partners.
The documentary and the presentation both made clear that elderly people would indeed be willing to use technical solutions for their support, if they are at least a minimum curious and interested in technology. However, a basic problem is still that people are not aware that technical devices could be of help in their home. There is still a lack of knowledge about this kind of support at home and especially about the fact that there are also already affordable solutions on the market that could be installed in dwellings unobtrusively. Nevertheless can small or cheap devices already make a big difference in residents’ lives.Therefore, ICT solutions can be an important third option of care working alongside informal and formal care, but can and should never replace formal and informal care.
Housing organizations learned during the project that they are a suitable facilitator for introducing technology to elderly tenants. However, when introducing technology, it is important to consider offering a stable support network consisting of professionals, family or friends to ensure ad smooth installation process and to make the user feel comfortable with the technology. During the project, participants appreciated much the meetings with other testers, so they could exchange experiences and tipps and tricks in handling the products. In this way, participants even built friendships in the neighbourhood beyond the project.
With the right framework, as developed during the project, the participants confirmed impressively that technology may contribute either to the users’ quality of life, or to their relatives’.
Regarding the ICT-platform that was developed during the project with the aim to facilitate the usability of technical devices for elderly people, partners learned that participants liked most the additionally offered social functions like the virtual “notice board” for the neighbourhood. Using the technical devices was easy for them after getting used to it, so they could manage without the bundeling ICT-platform including a specifically designed user interface.
Over the last four years of the project, it could be found that the environment for technical solutions to support people in their dwellings slowly developed and improved. Also the scientific team was glad to find out that the target group for assisting technology can be defined as quite broad. That means, age, origin, gender or physical impairments are irrelevant for people accepting this kind of support and for people benefitting from technology. Nevertheless, it still lacks suitable frame conditions and funding opportunities from politics to stimulate the growth of the market and to make it more attractive so that more people can benefit from this kind of support.
In terms of continuing the I-stay@home approach, each housing organization within the consortium will find its own solution as they have to consider the political environment in their countries, company policies or other individual factors. A solution often considered was however a cooperation with external partners from technical or social companies which would take care of the technical devices and the necessary support. The housing organization would act as agent in this scenario.
For complete information about the project, you can download the final publication, covering the research at the beginning, the testing phase and the experiences the partnership made.
Furthermore, you can watch the I-stay@home documentary with English subtitles here: