Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Mar-Apl 2013 Contents ...continued on page 41
The right assistive
Selecting technology to make
life a little easier can be
tricky. Apart from financial
considerations, there's the
added dilemma of wondering
whether the device will actually help.
are broadly known as
(AT) because they help
a person complete a task
or function otherwise
difficult or impossible.
The label applies to a
range of devices of varying
complexity, both off the
shelf and custom made.
Taking the difficulty
out of choosing the right
AT is a new book from
resource has come out
of a recent AT study
assessing the needs of
carers in the community.
The importance of
first, looking for suitable technology
second and introducing the person to the
technology third, while considering how
they're going to interface with it, was a
key outcome of the original study, says
occupational therapist Meredith Gresham,
senior consultant -
research and design,
understood the person's
reactions and their
willingness to then
interact with this
technology, you can
be confident that the
technology will actually
do what you want it to,"
Assisting older people to
stay at home, is a step-
by-step guide to choosing
the best AT. It's been written for the older
person or their adult children, who may
be looking to provide a parent with some
The handbook explains what assistive
technology is and how it might help,
including a section for people living with
dementia. It also looks at broad ethical
issues, such as replacing human contact
The book details the ATs sourced
and trialled in the project, split into four
categories -- getting around; staying
engaged with life; safety and wellbeing;
and maintaining independence and
assisting with care needs.
At the back, is a self-assessment
checklist for carers. "It's a step-by-step
way of helping people independently
choose a technology and feel confident
that they've been through the thought
processes needed to select something that
is probably going to make a difference,"
The checklist provides a list of
questions on things to think about,
including total costs. "Initially, bright
shiny technology might sound great.
But when you add up ongoing or
maintenance charges or broadband
charges, the product becomes a lot
dearer," Gresham says.
The 'Assistive technology, assisting
older people to stay at home'
handbook is free to download from
STUDYING THE BIDET
The original project has also spurned a
follow up study of the electronic bidet,
a device often referred to as the
Japanese toilet seat.
The impact of the wash and dry toilet
top electronic bidet was one of the most
A new research-backed resource aims to
help older people and carers choose the
best assistive technology to meet their
needs, writes Natasha Egan.
THE DEMONSTRATION PROJECT
As reported in the July/August 2011 edition of AAA, the HammondCare's assistive
technology (AT) demonstration project assessed for, investigated and installed into people's
homes various sorts of commercially available ATs.
The study involved an initial independent assessment of the carer's goals and looked
at how ATs could reduce carer burden in the community.
There were 20 different types of ATs used and a total of 78 installed. Examples
included the Wii Fit game, the Kindle ebook reader, an electronic bidet and a mechanism
for turning out the front seat of a car.
That study found a trend to reduction in carer burden, however the decrease was
not significant. On the upside, 84 per cent of the stated expectations of carers were
met or exceeded.
Additionally, 72 per cent of participants chose to continue with their AT solution upon
project completion while 14 per cent were no longer required. Only 12 per cent were
removed because they were faulty or didn't meet caregiver needs.
"Technology really met people's assessed goals when they had really specific
expectations about what the technology might be able to do for them," says
HammondCare researcher Meredith Gresham.
Assistive Technology, Assisting older people to
stay at home is available as a free download
Meredith Gresham, senior
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 39
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