How to take smart assistive technologies into the mainstream

The Queensland government has funded a new portal being launched next week to provide information on smart assistive technologies to consumers and home and community care providers.

Developed by innovation facilitator Community Resourcing, the Community Care Smart Assistive Technology Collaborative Platform will initially target the thousand or so Queensland-based home and community care providers for under 65s, particularly those involved in the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

However, Community Resourcing's Anne Livingstone said the portal would be open to community care providers on a nationwide and international scale.

The portal was developed following a statewide roadshow held last year that visited 13 sites to raise awareness of the role that smart assistive technologies can play in service delivery, particularly for Home and Community Care (HACC) package providers who are transitioning into the new Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and for those providing services that will be funded through the NDIS.

Ms Livingstone said that following the roadshow, Community Resourcing received funding to build a collaborative platform that would allow the government to address some gaps in community care provision, but would also help build a community of practice and to increase the uptake of smart assistive technologies by consumers.

Project lead Liz Dodd said the platform would promote the use of assistive technologies and service provision through knowledge sharing and collaboration.

“Its purpose is to raise the awareness of the various roles of smart assistive technology and its applicability in community care provision, and also to provide practical information on how it can be incorporated into service delivery,” Ms Dodd said.

While it will initially target service providers in Queensland, it has a much wider potential, she said.

“This issue is one where a global approach is often the best approach and so we have a mission to engage those targeted providers but also the rest of the nation and indeed internationally.

“Some of the initial information on the site is quite internationally focused. For example, we'll highlight things like some of the work that is being done with driverless vehicles.”

Kevin Doughty, a well-known expert in assistive technologies and telecare who is the director of the Centre for Usable Home Technologies at Coventry University and a regular visitor to Australia, is on the reference group advising on the project and will attend and speak at the launch in Brisbane.

Another international expert advising on the portal is Denmark's Carrie Peterson, an expert in the use of technology in dementia care and what she calls 'gerontechnology'.

Ms Dodd said that while it would not have an initial focus on vendors, the organisation understood it was critically important to work closely with technology developers. However, this also included those technologies or concepts that were not necessarily commercially viable but had the potential to have an impact, she said.

“Some of it could be a smart idea that is consumer driven, that might be significantly important for a particular person to help them live independently.”

Ms Livingstone said a particular interest of Community Resourcing was working with organisations that are consumer focused and consumer outcome driven, including aged care providers such as Feros Care.

The company works across the primary healthcare sector but focuses more on service model design, workforce implications and the funding and policy mechanisms around introducing innovation rather than the technology.

“Generally we work around technology but we are not technologists,” she said. “For example, we are working with the CSIRO on the Smarter Safer Homes platform, working behind the scenes and assisting to translate the research into practice

“We have worked closely with government promoting how uptake might occur and about how innovative approaches to funding can see more widespread adoption. A particular interest for us is how you get the pilots and the few providers who are mainstreaming to scale up.”

The portal will be officially launched at a workshop being held by Dr Doughty on embedding and mainstreaming smart assistive technology in community service provision at the RNA Showgrounds in Brisbane on Tuesday, September 8.

Posted in Aged Care

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