ICT for independent living and elderly care at home
European policies such as the Social Investment Package for Cohesion and Growth (SIP), the Employment Package for a Job-rich Recovery and the Innovation Partnership on Healthy and Active Ageing (EIPAHA), are driving the policy agenda for the coming years in the field of long-term care. Their strategy is focused on:
- reducing growth in long-term care needs
- increasing access to and quality of care services
- increasing productivity and jobs in the care sector
- reinforcing the efficiency of long-term care systems
These policies highlight the importance of information and communication technology (ICT)-based care services in achieving these objectives. These services range from assistive to robot technologies, and include telecare, social networking, virtual reality and other online services. Research has demonstrated their value in helping elderly people to be more independent and cope with their physical and mental conditions. ICT-based care services also help carers to deal with stress and to carry out their care tasks better. They can also reduce the use of more expensive care services, avoiding the need for hospital admissions and shortening the length of stays in institutions.
However, ICT-based services for long-term care are only being used on a small scale in Europe. Little scientific evidence of their effectiveness and efficiency is available. In addition, there are technological barriers for end-users, inefficient business models, and difficulties in integrating these services into the care system. These challenges have been identified in previous IPTS research.
IPTS is therefore leading a programme of research to map and develop more systematic and scientific evidence on ICT-based services for independent living and elderly care at home. This programme aims to help European policy makers make decisions on how to design, implement and transfer successful strategies for long-term care, based on technological solutions.
- ICT-AGE: Long-term Care Strategies for Independent Living of Elderly People (05.2013 – 09.2014)
This project is funded by DG EMPL to support recommendations to the Member States to develop long-term care strategies promoting the use of technology-based solutions to enable older adults to continue living at home.
This research will help the European Commission suggest to the Member States policies that respond to the growing needs of the elderly, ensure access to long-term care and the quality of care and maintain financial sustainability as regards care delivery. The research is one of the actions of the Social Investment Package for Cohesion and Growth (SIP).
More information on the project website
This project publishes an online directory of ICT-enabled services for informal carers to ensure the dissemination of existing good practices and to raise awareness about them among end- users (i.e. carers and older people) and stakeholders.
The project has made available online 78 case studies of ICT-based initiatives for informal carers of older people (63 of them are from the IPTS CARICT project). The project was coordinated and funded by JRC-IPTS and carried out by the Italian National Institute of Health and Science on Ageing (supported by Eurocarers and Ilikecake Limited).
The website with the case studies will be available here
- CARICT: Study on ICT-based solutions for caregivers: assessing their impact on the sustainability of long-term care in an ageing Europe (12.2010-12.2011)
This study, jointly funded with DG INFSO and run by the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research in Vienna, was documenting systematically the extent of ICT-enabled services to support carers, and explored in depth how this type of initiative works.
The goal was to understand how ICT can play role in the future mix of services and supports available to the elderly and their carers and to facilitate the creation of a sufficient number of available (motivated) and skilled domiciliary caregivers in European society.
For more information, please go to the project webpage.
- The potential of ICT in supporting informal domiciliary carers, with particular attention to the case of immigrant care-workers (12.2008 – 05.2010)
In an ageing society, with increasing numbers of people in need for long term care; shrinking numbers of health professionals and dedicated carers; high level health technology and growing costs for national budgets, two complementary trends are likely to emerge as components of a supply-side solution to meeting the demand for home care: 1) migrant care labour to complement and supplement professional health care provision and 2) ICT devices and applications support care functions, like monitoring and surveillance. Following the first exploratory study on Italy, three country studies on Germany, Spain, and the UK have been analyzed.
For more information, please go to the project webpage.
- Immigrants, personal care jobs and ICT (in Italy) (01.2008 – 05.2008)
This study looked at the current and potential use of ICT by immigrants in personal care jobs (for service delivery, training, support) and immigrants’ role in mediating access to e-services for the people they assist.
Final Report: The Potential of ICT in supporting Immigrant Care Workers in Domiciliary Care in Italy (2010). Authors: Paolo Boccagni and Sergio Pasquinelli. Editor: Stefano Kluzer. JRC Technical Note: EUR 24467 EN.
- 10-11 November 2011: IPTS and INFSO/C4 - 4 'Major Findings' Sessions ...
...in the framework of the IRIS (Intelligence and Research for the Information Society in Europe) Framework Agreement between DG Information Society and Media, Directorate C (DG INFSO/C) and DG Joint Research Centre, IPTS (JRC-IPTS). The objective of the presentation on "Evidence on ICT and social innovation in support of domiciliary carers of elderly people: challenges and opportunities for impact assessment" was to illustrate how ICT based initiatives (solutions, services, projects) are enabling or promoting social innovation to support carers across Europe discussing the opportunities and challenges to put them at work.
- 3-5 November 2010: Conference on Sustainable Ageing: ICT for the care of the elderly (Granada, Spain)
The main objective of this conference was bringing together researchers, authorities, business and civil society organizations from countries around the world, to define strategies and priorities within the framework of sustainable aging and ICT to elderly care. The conference examined the problems that prevent the introduction of services and ICT systems, and prospects for sustainable development. In addition, it presented the latest in technologically advanced systems and services to elderly care, and addressed the need for the implementation of e-health for older people with chronic diseases. IPTS gave a presentation on "The potential of ICT for supporting caregivers of elderly people", which is based on the findings of an exploratory study into the use of ICT by caregivers involved in Long-term Care in four European countries (UK, DE, ES, IT). More information also on the conference website.
Policy & Scientific Impact
- Developing personal and household services in the EU: A focus on housework activities. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. European Commission (2013).
- Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Towards Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion – including implementing the European Social Fund 2014-2020. COM(2013) 83 final.
- Staff working document: Long-term care in ageing societies – Challenges and policy options, accompanying the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Towards Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion – including implementing the European Social Fund 2014-2020. SWD(2013) 41 final.
- Széman (2013). Challenges of Ageing Societies in the Visegrad Countries: Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia. Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta, Budapest, 2013.