The growing number of inhabitants in need of care and rehabilitation is a common problem in most industrialised countries. More medical conditions can be treated, but often at increasing costs. Care and housing are often interlinked and more interest is being paid to the possibility of offering care to elderly in their own homes. It is not only technology and care that matter; an equally important issue is how well the dwellings are adapted to care, both from a spatial perspective and in supporting new technology. It is a relatively widespread opinion that ICT (Information and Communication Technology) has the potential to support the resources of the caring professions without reducing the quality of the care itself. The complexity of relatively simple technology in use with Home Care and Telemedicine is often underestimated; there are many obstacles.
In order to conduct applied research about assistive technologies and ergonomics when an apartment is also a work place for professionals giving care and assistance to people in their own home, the University has decided to construct a full scale laboratory in the form of two complete, self-contained and fully equipped apartments. The laboratory will be used to study and develop new technologies and work processes in the home. In different zones such as the kitchen, the bedroom, the living room, the hallway, the cloakroom and the bathroom, there will be different research projects implemented. Subjects and professional care staff will be invited to participate in the studies.
In different zones there will be different research project implemented:
In the bathroom we will develop design for assistive work respectively design for independent intimate hygiene. The Japanese toilet style which include cleaning and drying system will be tested.
In the bedroom we are planning a lightning system for light close to the floor as a guide when one goes up in the night time.
In the kitchen we will investigate how to create good lighting and storage conditions while preventing old people from falling when trying to replace a bulb or climb to high cupboards.
In the kitchen new approaches to deal with fire risk and the stove and oven will be studied.
In one project we have planned to study how the access to the apartment can be dealt with in ways that support the elderly person with memory problems and the healthcare provider.
By using a full scale laboratory where tenants and caring professionals as well as facilities managers are included, all aspects of the apartment can be scrutinized. Instead of assistive technologies the goal is to develop and test solutions based on the concept of inclusive design.
2008. 107-112 p.