Technology has an extremely heavy presence in modern life.
It is everywhere we look. With smart homes and smart businesses taking the forefront, we are able to get technological assistance for almost anything.
This is great if you can’t be bothered to get up and turn the light on – you simply ask Siri, Google or Alexa to do it for you now!
But, the benefits extend far beyond the realm of retiring the good old light switch!
In fact, technology advancements can make life easier and allow independence for those that may not always have had this luxury.
It all stems from the Internet of Behaviours and how we can use this and assistive technology to transform the difficult into the simple. Beyond that, it can improve quality of life and safety for the vulnerable and their carers.
So, let’s explore what the Internet of Behaviours is, how it connects with assistive technology and how they are making a huge impact in the lives of those that need assistance the most.
How The IoB And Assistive Technology Create Safety And Independence
What Is The Internet Of Behaviours?
The Internet of Behaviours (IoB) is an extension of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT refers to the billions of devices out there in the world that are connected to the internet. Because of that connection, each device produces a huge variety of data that we can learn from.
The IoT is all about observation and data collection. The IoB then uses that information and turns it into knowledge – our behaviours and the way we use the “things”. As companies learn more about us and the things we use (the IoT), they can use that data to affect our behaviours (the IoB).
Now, that doesn’t have to be as sinister as it sounds, the IoB is not about brainwashing or manipulating. Rather, it can be really helpful. If you have ever used a health app on your smartphone, you will have experienced the impact of the IoB.
The app can collect data about your activity levels, diet, sleep habits, heart rate, stress levels and more. Then, that same app uses the data it collects to provide alerts or suggest behaviour modifications to create a healthier lifestyle – a more positive outcome in the larger sense.
The IoB is what provides value in exchange for the data collected by the IoT.
As IoT can help provide data to modify an individual’s behaviour, the same can be said for carers, families and service providers. If IoT provides data on someone’s wellbeing it can help tailor and refine the support that person needs.
Collecting data on yourself is up to you, but doing it on someone else is completely different. It is critical that you are open, transparent and have the person’s consent. This can be a challenge when supporting people in cognitive decline or with a cognitive disability. Just because it is a challenge does not make it any less critical.
What Is Assistive Technology?
“According to the Global Report on Disability published by the World Health Organisation in 2011 more than 1 billion people or 15% of the world’s total population have a disability. In New Zealand, the rate in 2013 (the last time the figure was calculated) is even higher at nearly 1 in 4 people or 25%.”
Disabilities can make everyday life more difficult to navigate and sometimes impact a person’s safety. So, when New Zealand has such a high rate of people impacted by disability, we can make a true difference with assistive technology.
Assistive technologies are basically devices or systems used to make everyday life easier. They help people:
- Do things that they may not be able to do independently
- Communicate a need or issue that they can’t express themselves at that time
Ultimately, they help people with cognitive difficulties to maintain or improve their independence, safety and wellbeing.
Generally, assistive technologies are specific devices or aids that are designed, and can be refined, to meet a particular need.
How Do They Work Together?
The IoB helps a tech-savvy population to provide better assistance to those that need it most. By understanding the common actions and behaviours of the vulnerable, we can create better assistive solutions. Of course, this results in greater independence and quality of life for the elderly and those who are living with disabilities.
What does this assistance look like?
Well in the first instance, it helps many to live a healthy, productive, independent and dignified life, regardless of their age or disability. It can allow them to participate in the workforce, education, and community life in ways they couldn’t before.
Without assistive technology, some people are reliant on formal health and support services or physical caregivers. Clever technology solutions remove a lot of that reliance, allowing systems and devices to provide the support to live independently.
And the IoB helps to make the assistive technologies more effective with the knowledge it provides.
Creating Safety And Independence
So, we’ve talked about the theoretical way that the IoB and assistive technology can improve the lives of the elderly and those impacted by disabilities. But, let’s look at some practical examples to illustrate the power that this pairing holds.
Providing People With a Voice
Some people are limited by other people’s expectations of them, and their disabilities are then compounded. Technologies can evidence that they are able to manage independently by showing in real-time that they can cope on their own or with less support than people expected. Various sensors around the home can show they are cooking, eating, sleeping and keeping themselves warm. This is where the sensors move from being intrusive to providing liberation.
Improvement in Service Quality
Whether in a domestic home or a medical facility, technology has the ability to monitor (and alert if necessary) medical events such as:
- Nocturnal seizures (a range of seizure types can be detected depending on how they present, as well as the change in physiology and vital signs in the person having a seizure)
- Enuresis (be alerted instantly if someone needs support with continence issues during the night)
Improvement in Safety for Users and Staff
Concerning dangers can be removed for the people using the technology and those caring for them. Here are a couple of examples:
- Nocturnal wandering
- alerting as soon as someone leaves their bed
- or if they don’t go back to bed after a short period of time (for example, allowing people to go to the bathroom independently)
- Falls risk – Be alerted if someone is about to get out of bed
- When they sit up in their bed
- When they about to put their feet on the floor
Increased Efficiency – providing more with less physical resource
Simple (or more complex) technology solutions can help group homes, supported living facilities and medical practices provide greater support to a larger number of people.
The technology does not replace human support by any means, but it makes it more effective. The technology can be the eyes and ears when team members are not physically there. By monitoring individuals and creating alerts in times of need, it provides a greater level of care and gives greater confidence to the users and the staff – nothing will be missed.
Supporting greater independence
It is easy to feel like you are not in control of your life when you need to rely on others to do things for you. These technology solutions can give control back to the individual, knowing they are supported and can call on help if they need it.
The mindset and wellbeing benefits of feeling in control are priceless.
But the benefits aren’t just for the user of the technology. It also reduces the stress levels of carers, knowing that the technology will be there even when they can’t be.
Making A Difference
While the options these technologies provide are amazing, there are a number of barriers to implementing them in the places that need them the most. Ironically, the barrier to implementing the technology is the technology itself! Or more specifically, the knowledge of how to use the technology.
By the nature of what they are, technological systems and devices can be complicated. Most businesses that need them do not have the technical expertise to develop and install them.
Just like when you bought your first smartphone, things can be overwhelming at the start but become easier.
Luckily, that’s where mentokc and Te Wana Ltd can help. We live and breathe technology. More than that, we love to create technology solutions that have a truly positive impact.
We work alongside your organisation to identify your unique requirements and develop custom solutions that help you achieve your assistive and safety objective. Once we know what you need, we can then help to source and work through the change management process required to make those solutions a reality.
Ready to create life changing solutions for those that need it most? Then reach out to us today for a chat about the endless possibilities ahead.
I’d love to learn more about assistive technologies for my organisation. Let’s chat!
Introducing: Te Wana Ltd
This blog has been co-authored by Jonathan Sibbles (Director) from Te Wana Ltd.
Te Wana Ltd supply assistive technology care monitoring sensors to support people with epilepsy, intellectual disabilities, dementia and those at risk of falling.
The mentokc team work closely with Te Wana Ltd when implementing change management processes for support organisations throughout New Zealand.