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Testing the future of welfare technology

05-02-2015 News UK

Three municipal pilot projects testing welfare technology are chosen to receive grants from the Strategy for Digital Welfare in support of project management and evaluation. Evaluations should enable Danish municipalities and regions to benefit from one another and to accelerate the dissemination of welfare technology on the social policy area.

The aim of the common public-sector Strategy for Digital Welfare 2013-2020 is to ensure the inclusion of innovative and efficient digital solutions in the areas of health policy, social policy and education policy.

Read more about the Strategy for digital welfare.

In order to enhance the overall quality of decision making processes of Danish municipalities and regions in regards of welfare technology investments, an initiative aimed at obtaining solid evaluations on this area is incorporated in the Strategy for Digital Welfare. Evaluations should reveal economic and qualitative gains as well as technology assessments from both citizens and professionals. Furthermore, a business case should be conducted on a national level with the purpose of creating a solid base for the potential decision to roll-out the technology nationally.

From an open application process three projects have been chosen to receive public grants for project management and evaluation. The three projects are described below.

'Online Bostøtte'

Online Bostøtte is a project aiming to provide support for vulnerable citizens living in their own home through the means of online video communication. It is considered as an add-on to the traditional face-to-face meeting between the citizens and street level professionals. Online Bostøtte enables the citizen to talk and chat with the associated professionals through computer, tablet or smart phone. This allows for the citizen to receive some of the required support in their everyday life by the means of video communication.  

Video communication is anticipated to improve the experienced level of quality of the citizen. As an example, a higher frequency of conversations between citizens and professionals is expected to prevent problems from piling up. Furthermore, a lot of citizens do not need a street level professional to be physically present in their home in order to gain the required support or guidance.

Simultaneously, analyses show that about ten percent of employees’ working hours are spent ‘on the road’ – working hours that could be spent more efficiently.

The project is set to start in the beginning of 2015 with a total duration of 18 months. Nine municipalities in the Northern Jutland will be offering online support for vulnerable citizens living in their own home. The municipalities include Aalborg, Frederikshavn, Hjørring, Thisted, Jammerbugt, Mariager Fjord, Morsø, Vesthimmerland, and Brønderslev.

Floors with built-in sensor technology at care centers

Sensor floors are floors with a built in sensor system that detects the movement of a care center resident. This allows the sensor floors to notify a nursing assistant via smartphone or tablet if a resident takes a fall in his or her apartment at the care center. The floor also detects if a resident has gone to the bathroom and a suspicious amount of time has gone by without the citizen returning.   

Besides notifying of accidents that have already taken place, the sensor floors are also able to prevent certain accidents. For example the nursing assistants get notified if a resident is getting out of bed. This allows for the resident to be supported by the staff right away. Furthermore, when getting out of bed at night, sensor floors will notice the movement of the resident and then automatically turn on the light.

Evaluation of this project should document the specific gains acquired through the use of an intelligent sensor based floor system. This includes assessments of whether sensor floors increase the safety of residents and if they are beneficiary to the nursing staff regarding time and work flows in general.  

The project is carried out in collaboration with six municipalities including Hillerød, Aalborg, Aarhus, Kolding, Varde, and Skive.

Welfare technology in care homes

In the municipality of Aarhus a number of care homes have been refurbished or built and now includes a number of built-in welfare technological solutions such as robot vacuum cleaners, toilets with built-in flushing and drying, automated lights on the bathrooms, and environmental control by means of automated doors and window openers. However, knowledge about the positive effects of welfare technology such as improved quality of life for citizens, a better working environment for the staff and economic gains is still restricted. Evaluations of the implemented welfare technology are currently being carried out in 495 of the care homes in Aarhus. The aim of the evaluations is to shed light on how welfare technology affects the everyday life of citizens, and how it affects time spent by staff as well as the municipal budget. The project is grounded in Center for Frihedsteknologi in Aarhus.

New application process in 2015

In spring 2015 the open application process will start over again, and up to three new municipal projects testing welfare technology will be chosen for public grants.