The SLIOTAR projects aims to review the effectiveness of the Assistive Living Technologies and Social Interventions used in the Great Northern Haven (GNH) Complex, Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland. This is an on-going research project with a report on the findings due to be published in the first quarter of 2015.
The projects will have three main themes including, Planning and Design, Technology and Social Interventions. The primary case study (GNH) will be complemented by findings from additional case studies including McAuley Place, Naas Co. Kildare and Local Area Coordination (LAC), Thurrock, Essex, England.
SLIOTAR is a multi-agency national project which is part funded from European Commission project funding. The project partners are:
- Age Friendly Ireland,
- Dundalk Institute of Technology through the Netwell Centre/Centre for Affective Solutions for Ambient Living Awareness (CASALA),
- Limerick City and County Council through the Limerick Age Friendly Programme,
- Limerick Regeneration,
- Louth County Council through the Louth Age Friendly Programme.
The development of Older Adult specific accommodation is a key element in ensuring that Older Adults in our communities can ‘age in place’. The concept of ageing in place points to a paradigm shift that enables Older Adults to stay in their homes or communities for as long as possible rather than moving to a long term institutional care setting. This change can have a positive effect on the lives and general wellbeing of Older Adults. Preliminary findings from the research are as follows;
- Planning and Design
Using McAuley Place, Naas, Co. Kildare as a case study, the importance of location was explored. The location of the McAuley Place is key to its success; it is close to many services and amenities in Naas. This was mentioned by the residents (completed questionnaires and in focus groups) a number of time for the reason behind individuals moving to McAuley Place. It was also noted that this level of accessibility and enhanced choice improves independence which is also key to improving overall health and wellbeing.
The standards in terms of design of Older Adult accommodation has changed significantly over the years. A review of the literature as part of the SLIOTAR project suggest that the changing aspiration of Older Adults has influenced changes in design, including greater accessibility (i.e. barrier free), adaptability, increased space and storage. This is reflected in the design of GNH which incorporates adaptable bathrooms, a spare bedroom (for a guest or carer) and high standard of internal finish in each unit.
From a technology perspective, GNH aims to create an integrated system that supports the Older Adult in self-management of their health and to ultimately improve their quality of life as they age. Currently, an application which is designed for a tablet PC, allows the greatest degree of interact between the individual and the collected data. Older Adults self-report on their wellbeing through interactive questionnaires on the application. This allows them to chart trends over time on areas such as sleep quality, mood and social interaction. Critically, the application also provides the Older Adults with interventional and educational feedback which allows them to take control of their own health and wellbeing. Feedback from the GNH residents using the application has been generally positive, with residents noting that ‘the act of answering these questions increased an awareness of wellbeing’.
- Social Interventions
Two social intervention programmes have been reviewed as part of the SLIOTAR project. Cúltaca is a service broker scheme based in Dundalk, Co. Louth which aims to strengthen capacity to provide information to Older Adults in the community. The Cúltaca promote and develop a person-centred approach to care to ensure the wants and needs of the Older Adults take priority over standard service delivery. Equally, Local Area Coordination (LAC), Thurrock, Essex, England has been utilised as a comparative case study. LAC model is designed to support people who are vulnerable through age, frailty, disability or mental health issues to stay strong and connected by developing solutions tailored to each individual’s needs. From a Social Intervention perspective the key positive features of these programmes include identifying the needs of the individuals (taking a person centred approach), combating instances of social isolation and reducing the demand on formal services.