Care workers test HAAL technologies

HAAL (HeAlthy Ageing eco-system for people with dementia) is a collaborative, international project within the Active and Assisted Living Programme (AAL) to support dementia care through a data-driven technology bundle. Nine technologies are involved, using the Meaningful Tryout (Zinvol Uitproberen) method to investigate whether the technologies fit the needs of organisations. This step is extremely important to ensure that the solution matches user expectations. 

This article addresses a session at Vilans in Utrecht, the Netherlands. We invited two participants from the Dutch healthcare organisation, Amstelring to test the HAAL technologies. Amstelring is now using TinyBot Tessa (a social robot) and Compaan (a tablet) and are very enthusiastic about involving more technological products in their care. During the Meaningful Tryout, they tested Medido (an automatic medicine dispenser), Tipr (a rehabilitation game for eye-hand coordination), WhizToys (a rehabilitation game for eye-leg coordination), WhizPad (a smart mattress detecting sleeping quality), and Kompy Pico (a GPS tracker). Because some devices are games, they had an especially enjoyable time trying out the technologies. Here is a look at the results:

What did the care professionals think about trying the technologies in person?

Trying out the different technologies makes it all come to life and enables us to really understand it. Otherwise, it stays quite superficial. Now we are encouraged to dive deeper into it.

The participants found the session useful. They mentioned that testing the devices provided them with a much better idea than just looking at demonstration videos. Besides, they could actively ask questions during the session about the suitable contexts, benefits and pitfalls. This was evidence that physical demonstration prompted much better analysis and evaluation. The participants clearly expressed their appreciation for the workshop and are willing to join the next one!

What factors did the care professionals consider?

“After caregivers fail in trying to use the device for a few times, for example because of technical problems, it will often not be used again – leaving the technology unused.” 

The themes that the participants found most relevant to evaluate during the session were functionality (if the product can solve a problem), usability (if the product is suitable for people with dementia and care professionals) and context of use (where the product is suitable). The participants considered three main aspects.

Firstly, they found it important that the products are failure-proof, and able to respond to needs. The technologies should minimise the risk of making mistakes for less-technical users. For example, the medicine dispenser, Medido, gives 30 minutes for users to reply to its medication notification. Additionally, it does not respond when an older adult clicks for medicine at the wrong time.

Secondly, the technology should be customised for use by older persons, some of who could have imperfect vision and hearing. For example, small screens for rehabilitation games might make it hard for older users to see the instructions. The big-screen television is a great option for good visibility – like WhizToys.

Thirdly, they tried to imagine installing the devices in the actual contexts – either at the home of people with dementia, daytime activities, or full-time nursing homes.

What technologies are care professionals most interested in?

“I think it {Medido} is a really nice device, I think it can be so nice for people, that they can have control and it also looks very nice”

“I could also see it {WhizToys} in daycare that you sit in the circle and have also those tiles in front of you and do it together”

The participants also found Medido and Kompy Pico appealing, for their useful functions and attractive appearance. These products would be suitable for clients who are in the early stage of dementia and live at home. Case managers can also benefit when clients use these technologies, as it reduces physical visits. Additionally, the care professionals expected that WhizToys and Television setup would be suitable as a daytime activity and a physiotherapist meeting because while older adults are using the game, another person is required to operate the game and can observe them to prevent falls. The participants found the most potential in the chair game in WhizToys. Multiple clients can sit and play together. It would both stimulate clients to move and encourage social interaction.

Conclusion and the next steps

The HAAL project conducted the Meaningful Tryout with participants from Amstelring. The participants truly recognise the benefits from innovative products. They also found it useful to have physical demonstrations and deep discussions and look forward to more testing. They would be interested in installing it at the care organisations to be tested in a group. In the meantime, HAAL is developing a platform to integrate all the technologies because care organisations are already excited to start using some of them in their practice!

Read more about The HAAL Project

Contact for this project:
Henk Herman

Senior advisor