A new national project is underway to improve the awareness and use of smart technologies among people living with dementia in the community.
The initiative by Queensland-based social enterprise LifeTech is developing a suite of online resources for people with dementia, their carers and service providers.
The project secured funding in the federal government’s latest Dementia and Aged Services funding round and will create eight self-paced online learning modules, as well as videos and fact sheets on the uses of smart assistive technologies.
Digital stories will also capture consumer and carer experiences of using the technology, which include tablet devices, home monitoring systems and smart speakers with voice-controlled personal assistants, according to Zoe du Cann, LifeTec’s learning and development coordinator.
“The resources will explore the use and benefits of smart technologies for people living with dementia and also cover considerations on how to choose and implement these technologies,” she told Community Care Review.
“We are hoping that consumers and families will engage with these resources and that aged care organisations will utilise them to upskill their staff in working alongside people who are technology users.”
Ms du Cann is among the specialists who will speak on smart technologies at the upcoming ATSA Independent Living Expo.
She said the community care workforce had an important role to play in supporting the uptake and ongoing use of smart technology but staff skills and knowledge in this area was low.
The free resources to be released later this year will be peer reviewed by people with dementia.
Ms du Cann said limited awareness of the smart technologies available and their potential benefits hampered their use among people with dementia and their carers.
“People need access to information about technology options, particularly considering the enormous range and often overwhelming diversity of technologies available,” she said.
Among the rapidly growing market are smartphone apps, monitoring devices such as GPS watches, and in-home sensors that can detect falls and environmental hazards.
The online learning modules will be broken down into shorter segments to allow people to select topics of interest, as well as engage in deeper learning.
Capturing digital stories of people with dementia and their carers will provide an opportunity to better grasp the technological needs and wants of people with dementia, she said.
“There is more work to be done in terms of understanding the priorities of people with dementia and hearing their voices.”
Aside from information, other barriers to using smart technologies can include cost, ongoing support in maintaining and troubleshooting devices and reliability, she said.
Zoe du Cann is presenting on advances in smart technologies for people living with dementia at the ATSA Independent Living Expo in May.