Compatibility of technology and networks in home care
- Project team:
Decker, Michael (Project leader ITAS); Bettina-Johanna Krings; Nora Weinberger
- Funding: HeiKa (Heidelberg Karlsruhe Research Partnership) and Research bridge "Nature, Technology, Society"
- Start date: 2014
- End date: 2014
- Project partners: Prof. Dr. Johannes Eurich (Project leader), Dr. Jürgen Hädrich (Institute for the Study of Christian Social Service, Faculty of Theology, Heidelberg University)
- Research group: Innovation processes and impacts of technology
Current prognoses on demographic change assume that the number of elderly people in modern, high-tech societies will significantly increase in the coming decades. These shifts in the population pyramid seem to be statistically well recorded and include a detailed depiction of the age cohorts with their special characteristics. It is also assumed that the number of people with dementia will rise as well due to the general increase in life expectancy. In Germany alone, 1.2 million people suffer for instance from mild to severe dementia. According to estimates, their number will double by 2050. Today, already 69% of the inhabitants of nursing homes suffer from dementia. This is a huge challenge for the nursing of people in need of this care.
Against this background, new forms of nursing care are established, especially for home care. This field should be strengthened at the same time since it allows the patients to stay in their familiar surroundings as long as possible, which is considered a positive aspect. There are various approaches to networking in home care on very different levels. Regarding the medical care, there is a tendency for closer co-operation of the individual instances (general practitioner, neurologist, neurological department of a hospital and also nursing services) in the treatment of patients. In order to guarantee adequate care, some initiatives try to improve the network of different providers of health and long-term care insurances, public institutions, and caregivers to achieve increases in efficiency and effectiveness. An important aspect is the involvement of volunteers in home care and the establishment of a support scheme to remove a considerable burden from nursing relatives.
A different and additional way of help in home care is the use of technical support systems, especially for people with dementia. This is also evidenced by the large number of projects on "Ambient Assisted Living" (AAL). The application of technical support systems provides people with dementia with an interactive system which is i) basically geared to their abilities and needs, ii) always available, and iii) also offers patients security and as much autonomy as possible. In addition, this system would allow specific and, above all, individual therapy and fostering. This is not possible so far; for time and budget reasons nursing care has to concentrate on satisfying basic physiological needs.
However, the question remains how technology can be purposefully employed in the interaction of care networks regarding their structures, management, and implementation. The details of network organization and network management have to be correlated with the operating conditions of technology. To date there are only few studies which have observed these individual aspects. In the framework of this project, we will therefore focus on these specific questions to develop a technology design which is tailored to the needs of the particular nursing situation.
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Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
Phone: +49 721 608-23007