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BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2013 Apr 8;13:42. doi: 10.1186/1472-6947-13-42.

Deployment of assistive living technology in a nursing home environment: methods and lessons learned.

Author information

1
Image & Pervasive Access Lab, CNRS UMI 2955, Singapore, Singapore. hamdi.aloulou@ipal.cnrs.fr

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

With an ever-growing ageing population, dementia is fast becoming the chronic disease of the 21st century. Elderly people affected with dementia progressively lose their autonomy as they encounter problems in their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). Hence, they need supervision and assistance from their family members or professional caregivers, which can often lead to underestimated psychological and financial stress for all parties. The use of Ambient Assistive Living (AAL) technologies aims to empower people with dementia and relieve the burden of their caregivers.The aim of this paper is to present the approach we have adopted to develop and deploy a system for ambient assistive living in an operating nursing home, and evaluate its performance and usability in real conditions. Based on this approach, we emphasise on the importance of deployments in real world settings as opposed to prototype testing in laboratories.

METHODS:

We chose to conduct this work in close partnership with end-users (dementia patients) and specialists in dementia care (professional caregivers). Our trial was conducted during a period of 14 months within three rooms in a nursing home in Singapore, and with the participation of eight dementia patients and two caregivers. A technical ambient assistive living solution, consisting of a set of sensors and devices controlled by a software platform, was deployed in the collaborating nursing home. The trial was preceded by a pre-deployment period to organise several observation sessions with dementia patients and focus group discussions with professional caregivers. A process of ground truth and system's log data gathering was also planned prior to the trial and a system performance evaluation was realised during the deployment period with the help of caregivers. An ethical approval was obtained prior to real life deployment of our solution.

RESULTS:

Patients' observations and discussions allowed us to gather a set of requirements that a system for elders with mild-dementia should fulfil. In fact, our deployment has exposed more concrete requirements and problems that need to be addressed, and which cannot be identified in laboratory testing. Issues that were neither forecasted during the design phase nor during the laboratory testing surfaced during deployment, thus affecting the effectiveness of the proposed solution. Results of the system performance evaluation show the evolution of system precision and uptime over the deployment phases, while data analysis demonstrates the ability to provide early detection of the degradation of patients' conditions. A qualitative feedback was collected from caregivers and doctors and a set of lessons learned emerged from this deployment experience.

CONCLUSION:

Lessons learned from this study were very useful for our research work and can serve as inspiration for developers and providers of assistive living services. They confirmed the importance of real deployment to evaluate assistive solutions especially with the involvement of professional caregivers. They also asserted the need for larger deployments. Larger deployments will allow to conduct surveys on assistive solutions social and health impact, even though they are time and manpower consuming during their first phases.

PMID:
23565984
PMCID:
PMC3691578
DOI:
10.1186/1472-6947-13-42
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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