www.TechforLTC.com: Bringing Assistive Technologies LTC

Period of Performance: 09/15/2006 - 08/31/2007

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Ideas, Inc.
Kirtland, OH 44094
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Project Summary: The overall purpose of this project is to construct a web-based, searchable, updateable informatics database of existing and emerging technologies for frail and disabled individuals who require long-term care, and particularly individuals who live in shared residential settings. A prototype version of the website www.TechForLTC.org was created that provides information on 7 care issues (incontinence, fall management, assistance call systems, wander management, bathing, lifting and transfer, and medication management). It is currently available on the web, and is getting approximately 7,000 hits per month. Each care issue provides not only an extensive product listing, but practical, supplemental information to support informed decision-making. This includes a structured bibliography of empirical references related to the care issues, description of the different features of different classes of products, and useful questions to ask vendors before making a purchase decision. While the website has been available for 18 months, it has not been evaluated in terms of utility, design or functionality for the intended users. Therefore, Phase 1 focuses on evaluating the site and determining what changes are needed before adding more content to the website (in Phase II). There are 3 goals of this Phase I project: 1) to evaluate the value of the prototype website to the primary user groups in terms of their satisfaction with the relevance and completeness of all aspects of the website and incorporate this feedback into the website; 2) to evaluate the value of the prototype website to the primary user groups in terms of functionality using in-depth heuristic evaluation techniques and incorporate this information into the website; and 3) to identify the most salient care areas to be added in Phase II. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be used to have site users evaluate the site. Modifications will be made to the site as necessary based on analysis of the data, and re-evaluated. We will also survey 100 service providers to determine what topics are most salient for adding to the site in Phase II. Relevance: There are disparities between technologies that are available to people with disabilities who live in the community (greater number and variety) and those that are available specifically for older adults, particularly elders living in shared residential long-term care settings [LTC]. There are also significant disparities in accessibility of unbiased information about products, devices and systems, which are more prevalent for individuals in the community than those who reside in LTC settings. Yet these individuals are often the frailest and most in need of supportive assistance. There is clear evidence that assistive technologies can support independence and enhanced functioning, as well as quality of life of individuals with disabilities. Assistive technologies may also have a significant impact on worker efficiency and satisfaction, reduce injury (resident and staff) and help keep liability costs under control.