Introduction of assistive technologies in social care

14th January 2021

Author: Lenka Lhotska, Viktor Kubat, Kristyna Hejdova, Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic

The year 2020 showed urgent need of introduction of technologies into daily practice in health and social care. The team of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU), Czech Republic was coincidentally awarded a grant for a project focused on the use of assistive technologies (AT) in the care of people who are aging, even those with various health complications. The integration of AT into the routine life of health professionals, carers and seniors is up-to-date and urgent. The aim of the project is to design, develop, implement and verify an innovative system that will increase the safety of people with special needs, the quality of health care and nursing care and at the same time reduce the demands on people caring in special facilities (hospitals, social services) and at home.

The partner organizations of the project are: Czech Technical University in Prague, T. Bata Regional Hospital, Diakonie Valašské Meziříčí, Social Services Vsetín. In today’s market, after analyzing the needs, we did not find any fully compliant complex and at the same time modular solution in terms of purpose, functionality, accuracy and reliability. Thanks to mutual communication and close interaction of the research team, a specialized AT system is being developed at CTU. The process started by defining the criteria of target groups and monitored situations, for which a technical solution is gradually being developed, tested and implemented. Continuous evaluation of quality and functionality of the solution and its implementation in practice is performed. At the beginning, the target groups and technologies were specified and the specifications are updated based on the project development. An essential output is the evaluation of long-term data records in the context of the client’s / patient’s life situation.

At the moment, the first year of the project is coming to an end. In the first months, we tested mainly autonomous non-integrated sensors. From them, suitable ones were selected in terms of function, reliability and integration possibilities. At CTU, the development of its own comprehensive solution is ongoing. Criteria of relevant ATs were defined and adequate devices were selected for individual types of facilities (social services, hospitals, home care). Monitoring the movement of people (wandering, running away), detection of falls and presence on the bed (falling from the bed) was evaluated as the most important across the organizations. However, the current epidemiological situation leads to a new perspective on the choice of parameters. In cooperation with the hospital, a solution was developed to monitor the physiological functions of patients with COVID-19. Furthermore, CTU is working on the development of a contactless sensor system for monitoring and analysis of daily activities, which will allow detecting anomalies in an individual’s behavior and a potential risk situation. The main goal of the project is to develop a system that will help aging people, their families and specialists to a higher quality of life and higher safety while staying longer in the home environment. The most important aspect of this project is that all the developed systems and sub-systems are directly tested in real settings at the project partners. The ultimate goal is that all partners use the developed systems in their everyday work. Since all are very cooperative and actively working we assume this is a start of a new nucleus of the Czech ecosystem.

Acknowledgement

The described work is supported by the project “Use of social innovations with the help of assistive technologies in the Zlín Region” CZ.03.3.X / 0.0 / 0.0 / 15_018 / 0015477 awarded by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic.

Contact: Lenka Lhotska, lhotska@cvut.cz

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