How can we ensure that people with mild memory problems can live at home longer? This is the key question of the RESILIEN-T project. Together with older people we are investigating what they need in order to develop a platform that fulfils their requirements.
We are carrying out this project together with national and European partners. Above all, RESILIEN-T can contribute to the continuity of providing good care, despite ageing and a shortage of staff. Problems that also exist in other European countries. Resilience is a key element for allowing older people to live at home for longer.
Addressing memory issues
‘By offering coaching in the field of exercise, good food, social contacts and training the memory, we can strengthen this resilience,’ says Vilans researcher Lisa Abdel Alim. ‘This way older people can manage their own health. In addition, they can tackle their memory problems through a change in lifestyle and postpone or prevent deterioration. With RESILIEN-T we will also investigate the potential use of other technologies. For example, we might also link wearables and activity monitoring to the platform if this can meet needs.’
In collaboration with Careyn and Compaan
‘We do the research and development of the platform in the Netherlands in collaboration with a healthcare organisation and a product developer. For example, Compaan developed a user-friendly tablet for older people on which we can place the platform app. Careyn provides the required expertise, because it can be difficult sometimes to identify who is experiencing mild memory problems and who should therefore be included in our research.’
The importance of well-being activities
‘Well-being is also an important factor that contributes to resilience,’ says Regina Krijger, who is involved on behalf of Careyn. ‘As a care organisation we offer a wide range of well-being services. For example, older people who live at home can also visit us for daytime activities. She is cautious in indicating which services she would like to be offered on the platform. ‘Because it is about the needs of the older people themselves, so it is better not to speculate in advance.’
Benefits for older people
Still, Krijger has some ideas about what the platform could offer. ‘It would be nice if an informal carer, who visits his father at home, sees on the tablet that his father could participate in the singing choir on Wednesday for example. Or that the district nurse contacts the older person by video, calling to remind him that the medication must be taken again at 11:00 a.m. The advantage is that the client does not have to stay at home unnecessarily for another visit of the district nurse. And it saves time for the district nurse as well.’
Working with older people and informal carers
Abdel Alim: ‘We are currently holding conversations with ten couples that consist of informal caregivers and older people. What is going well? What are they worried about? What tasks do they want to continue to conduct themselves? The needs are very different. Some older people do not want to be confronted with things that are not going so well anymore. Others are actively looking for methods to improve their health. Once we have a good idea of their needs in terms of health and support, we would like to design the platform in co-creation with the older people and carers.’
The deployment of international knowledge
‘In this development process international cooperation has a lot of advantages. We work with partners from Italy, Switzerland and Canada. In this way we benefit from international knowledge. Let’s say, one partner has a great deal of knowledge about designing and developing a platform and the other has more experience with conducting research into light memory problems. The differences in needs are also interesting. For example, it is possible that in Italy the quality of food is more important than elsewhere, and that older Italian people prefer services that can meet that need.’
RESILIEN-T is an AAL project, a joint financing program that includes 13 countries including Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Romania, Poland and Slovenia. Together these countries are developing projects to respond in time to demographic developments, with ageing in particular. The aim is to develop innovative, ICT-based solutions for older people and their environment.