Longevity is one of the biggest achievements of modern societies; Europeans are living longer than ever before and this pattern is expected to continue due to unprecedented medical advances and improved standards of living. On the one hand, people prefer to stay independent in their own homes as long as possible, but due to budget cuttings, people also do not have another choice. Older adults that do not meet certain levels of care dependency, are forced to take care of themselves relying on (commercial) support services, their network of informal caregivers, and on assistive technologies.
In the light of these challenges, the INNOVCARE project – Open ICT platforms and technologies to reduce and prevent the social and economic impact of elders care – is funded in Call 7 of the AAL Programme. Main goal of the project is to support older adults at home by providing a novel system with personalized assisted living ICT services to prolong their autonomy, improve their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, prevent further dependence, and facilitate networks to support self-care. By making use of the INNOVCARE system, self-management can be improved, which in turn leads to healthier citizens, more efficient (health) service usage, and fewer unplanned hospital admissions. In sum, an enhancement of people’s quality of life.
Instead of starting from scratch, INNOVCARE combines ICT eHealth solutions, services and products by adapting different innovative commercial systems, mostly based on Ambient Assisted Living technologies, including a personal health record, vital signs monitoring, videocall functionality, smartphone technology and wearables.
The technology consists of a technology open platform, with an Input, Output, Input / Output Integration HUB to connect external peripherals (in-home sensors, telemonitoring devices, wearables, etc.) and complimentary specific Apps, combined with a care watch and BOT technology to offer monitoring and coaching.
InnovCare watch with a combination of input and output. As the watch is a wearable device, it is most useful for both monitoring and coaching. In addition, it will act as a communication bridge between the user and the external supporting entities.
InnovCare BOT technology as a supportive conversational interface, to guide older adults through the use of external add-ons (health app, telemonitoring devices, etc.) that require user interaction.
USER INVOLVEMENT :
Although technology has great potential, people tend to have numerous reasons to be reluctant to it. In order to tackle this reluctance and realize user acceptance, systems and services have been developed in line with the needs and wishes of different involved stakeholder groups. From this point of view, older adults, informal caregivers and care professionals are involved from the early beginning to better understand their needs.
PILOTS AND FIELD TRIALS
After developing the INNOVCARE technology, we have conducted evaluation whether it was working according to plan and how different user groups perceive the functionality. In summer 2017 we have done usability testing with 10 users in SmartHomes of Netherlands and in Norway, and we have organized pilot sessions with older adults and informal caregivers. Based on the outcomes, the system has been refined. Consequently, in 2018 we conducted a field trial in Norway, Israel and the Netherlands. In each country, older adults have used the INNOVCARE solution. They have received a care watch to be used in combination with the INNOVCARE app for health monitoring and coaching. Besides older adults, the system also involves formal and informal caregivers (in Netherlands and Israel only).