Senior Lecturer, Housing Studies
This re-conceptualisation of technology – to include low-tech gadgets alongside state-of-the-art digital technology, shows technology as more of a process and that both high and low-tech solutions can play a critical role in daily life, supporting individual well-being, social connectedness and feelings of independence
The list of technology solutions examined included those that support time and place orientation, lighting, kitchen gadgets, eating, drinking, physical and digital technology. The specific devices, or assisted living technology, ranges from Alexa voice-activated smart speakers to simple jar openers.
The most popular items included Fitbits, hot water dispensers, a range of jar openers, tablets, radios, inclusive gardening equipment, magnifiers and Alexa-voice activated technology.
The findings are contained in a new report ‘Promoting Inclusive living via Technology-Enabled Support’, which makes several recommendations for UK and devolved governments, local authorities and housing associations, as to how assistive and everyday technologies can be implemented to improve the quality of life of residents and promote inclusive communities.
Dr McCall said: “We also identified some barriers to using technology, including concerns about privacy, annoyance with advertising and a need for help in setting up and maintaining the technology.
“There is a clear need for extra support to be able to use devices and software more effectively – including a requirement for further investment in solutions to overcome barriers related to resources and infrastructure, such as staff training, WiFi and mobile connections.”
Recommendations include increasing investment in connectivity infrastructure, revising procurement processes relating to technology and creating grant mechanisms alongside advice hubs for staff and residents, as well as setting up technology recycling systems.
Nicholas Harris, CEO at Stonewater, said: “The focus of this study was driven by increasing interest within health and social care policy in assisted living technologies as tools to enable older people to retain independence within their own homes.
“The report has found that technology can play a key role in promoting positive outcomes in people’s lives, but effective implementation requires focus, investment and ongoing support as people’s needs and technology change.”