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Webinar recap: responding to COVID-19: smart home tech to support people’s needs

Event recap

The webinar was chaired by Sophie Taysom, an independent consultant for Keyah Consulting and a member of the IET’s Healthcare Sector Panel. She kicked off the event by welcoming the attendees and introducing the speakers.  

Alisa Frik kicked off the conversation by looking at older adults’ perspectives on privacy and security. Smart home devices are still a new concept, even among the younger generation. The adoption of these devices by elderly is often driven by their children or doctors, who appreciate the convenience and 24/7 access and monitoring functionalities, making elderly care easier, cheaper, and continuous. However, older adults’ views are underrepresented in privacy and security research. The emerging tech is rarely designed with the senior target audience in mind, and often fail to engage this demographic in user research, focusing on an “average user”. Concerns and difficulty in using technology result in avoidance of technology. The aim is to inform the design of effective systems that empower older adults to make informed decisions about privacy, security and information sharing; to have better control over their personal data, and to maintain better security practices.

Philip Shelton shared an operating system for care teams. He looked at why this is important for the care sector, the challenges and its significance. The most important demographic trend is ageing. The adoption of digital technologies in care homes can result in fewer errors, better quality assurance and coordination between self-management, families and carers. From keeping track of health and wellbeing to managing daily care tasks, real-time information will allow carers, management and relatives to have access to this information and keep them in the loop. Currently, 80% of care homes use paper for care management with barriers to technology being training, access, and overall negative perceptions. The adoption of digital technologies in care homes can result in fewer errors, better quality assurance and coordination between self-management, families and carers.

Lastly, Nuno Almeida discussed being able to turn great ideas into positive health impacts through Eastern AHSN. Eastern AHSN is mandated by the NHS to deliver innovative solutions to health and care challenges across the East of England. There are a number of both cultural and practical barriers that need to be overcome to address the healthy ageing challenge. Smart home technology needs to sit in an ecosystem to support citizens to address health needs, ageing, isolation and wider wellbeing inequalities. Support and influence to overcome these barriers need to come from the NHS workforce, digital technologies and public and patient involvement. Though this is a challenge to health services, it is also an opportunity for businesses and researchers who can help people to stay active and productive as they age. Eastern AHSN is working on the digital transformation of the health service, with electronic health records, health informatics, point-of-care diagnostics, and digital self-management tools. Value-based ageing programmes that have a system approach to healthy ageing can help reduce social isolation and loneliness and provide the solutions that are needed.

Next webinar: responding to COVID-19: the future of intelligent homes to support health

In the sixth webinar of this series, on 16 December 2020 at 3.30 PM BST, we will be examining a range of existing solutions to address challenges associated with the future of intelligent homes to support health.

Meet the panel

Dr Sophie Taysom

Independent Consultant,
Keyah Consulting (Moderator)

Alisa Frik

Research Scientist, ICSI,
Postdoctoral Fellow for BLUES

Nuno Almeida

Nourish Care

Philip Shelton

Principal Advisor
Commercial (Business support for innovators Digital and data science support)