I was really pleased to be able to attend this event last Thursday (do check the site as there is an ongoing programme of workshops):
Making the most of the potential of Assistive Technology
Sponsored by: BIAS and KT-EQUAL
10:20 Welcome and Introduction, The world of BIB and older people, Chair for the morning, Professor Emeritus Heinz Wolff, Founding Director, Brunel Institute for Bioengineering (BIB), Brunel University
10:30 New Service Quality to Support Self-Care, Keren Down MBE, Director of FAST
10:55 Tackling Ageing Continence, Felicity Jowitt, Brunel Institute for Bioengineering
11:40 From chairs to stairs, Dr Ruth Mayagoitia, Applied Medical Research Group, King's College London,
12:05 "The Companion" - Independence, choice and self-sufficiency, Edward Varney, Brunel Institute for Bioengineering
13:45 Introduction to the afternoon, The world of BIAS and older people, Chair for the afternoon, Professor Mary Gilhooly, Professor of Gerontology, School of Health Sciences and Social Care, Brunel University
13:50 KT-EQUAL: its mission for older people, Professor Peter Lansley, Director KT-EQUAL, University of Reading
14:00 Older drivers & older IT users: designing new technology, Suzette Keith, Middlesex University
14:25 Safety and Security in Later Life, Professor Rachel McCrindle, KT-EQUAL Consortium, University of Reading
15:10 Nourishing the body and saving the soul, Dr Arlene Astell, St Andrews University
15.35 Technology for people with dementia, Eleanor van den Heuvel, Brunel Institute for Bioengineering
As noted above Prof. Heinz Wolff duly and delightfully introduced proceedings and chaired the morning. As a community mental health nurse for older adults and informatics / ICT enthusiast the day certainly proved worthwhile for me. Here are some reflections on two sessions:
While clinical and information standards have and remain a preoccupation for me, Keren Downs' session raised the chicken and the egg problem of standards and quality in the development of self-care and assistive technologies. Keren's presentation highlighted the stasis in design in the older adults sector and the question of how to energise future vision and models for innovation. There was reference to Shaping the future of care together and Common Core Principals to Support Self Care 2008, Department of Health.
Funding inevitably featured - the green paper listing three options:
Partnership - government pays for between a quarter and a third of care costs ...
Insurance - government pays for between a quarter and a third of care costs ...
Comprehensive - everyone pays into a state insurance scheme, whether or not they need care, and everyone gets free care when they need it.
While form follows function - can it also stifle innovation? When you consider change in materials, people's homes, care environments, attitudes ... there must be opportunities for innovation?
I also recalled similarities between this market of assistive technology and that of benefits realization within nursing (health) informatics. Especially as barriers were considered such as:
- poor design (usability)
- information provision
- workforce competency
- (To which I would add 'value added services' - maintenance, life-cycle management.)
The final slide listed some reports and a web link as follows:
FAST reports: www.fastuk.org
• Assistive Technology supporting self care, July 2006
• Assistive Technology –Workforce Development, June 2007
• Annual Report to Parliament on Research and Development in Assistive Technology, July 2009
Felicity Jowitt in another session:
TACT3: Tackling Ageing Continence through Tools, Theory and Technology
- provided a concise non-medicalized definition:
Urinary Incontinence 'is a condition in which involuntary urine lossInternational Continence Society definition of incontinence
is a social or hygienic problem and is objectively demonstrable'.
The talk included explanations of the problems and how they arise, prevalence, management, available AT options and the anatomically - stigma driven challenges that male and female continence presents. To close new assistive devices were discussed. The creation and production of discrete, well-designed person- (in a social context) friendly aides, special pads and devices to detect the odour that signifies the need to change a continence pad before the human nose is alerted.
The sessions featured a Q&A session and amongst the many questions raised, I wondered about the ideal of continence aids that also help nurses and carers maintain high quality standards of care and professional values. ... Perhaps from the late 1970s I have antiquated notions of basic nursing care? It is shocking to hear stories of people being told to "do it anyway - you've got a pad on!". Does it not occur to these people that if the person is asking they obviously have insight and are distressed by their urgent situation. As to people who are confused and asking as a result of agitation - the mind boggles and the heart aches at the standards of care evident in such an attitude.
So, this was a really thought provoking and - despite the subjects - enjoyable event and I have only of course scratched the surface.
The majority of presentation (including those above) are available on the download page.
A related reference I am following up:
Duarte, L.R., Marquié, L., Marquié, J-C. et al. (2009) Analyzing feature distinctiveness in the processing of living and non-living concepts in Alzheimer’s disease, Brain and Cognition, Volume 71, Issue 2, November 2009, Pages 108-11.
I will do a h2cm matrix on continence in the future.
* You can almost hear the critical exclamation of a future aged '60s generation - "No way dude I'm not using that!". Perhaps by then we will have the means to ensure they retain the faculties to pass a critique.