Challenges in Supporting Innovation in ICT-enabled Services for Family Care of the Elderly

Speaker: Dr James Stewart # Information Society Unit, Institute for Prospective Technology Studies, Seville

16th Jul 2012

15:30 - 17:00

Seminar Rm 1.06, Old Surgeons' Hall, HSY

One of the major challenges of the 21st century society is the aging population, and the shrinking younger population. Policy makers are exploring ways to improve the sustainability of aging, first by prevention of dependency and 'active aging', and secondly by improving efficiency and efficacy of Long Term Care (LTC).

Central to care for the elderly are family relationships, and family carers provide over 90% of the care to elderly relatives in Europe. These carers are largely ignored in policy, and in particular in social and health care policy, partly because this is 'hidden' work. One result is that new ICT services, including telecare and telehealth are often developed ignoring the role of family carers as some of the principal users of the systems. Using findings of the EC IPTS CARICT Study on "ICT-based solutions for caregivers: assessing their impact on the sustainability of long-term care in an ageing Europe" this paper explores the pathways to successful use of ICTs in care that improves the quality of care and quality of life of elderly people their carers, and the sustainability of local care services. The role of intermediaries such as private companies and carers associations which bring new resources and focus to LTC is highlighted as key to success in both innovation and developing sustainable services. The highly local features of most family care services, and distributed innovation processes raise important policy questions as to how to exploit local innovations more widely. In policy terms this is often referred to as 'scalability' and 'replicability', and raises issue of the appropriate models of innovation, diffusion, knowledge transfer, reinvention, infrastructures and standardisation that can be applied in this situation.