Care in the Community

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Abstract

This paper considers the application of pervasive computing to the provision of care in the community, specifically older frail people living alone in their own homes. The concept of well-being is introduced and developed through the explanation of a conceptual framework that incorporates person, context and experiential factors. The paper reviews how different aspects of well-being might be instrumented within the home of an older person using non-intrusive pervasive sensors and computing devices. The data acquired from these sensors can be used to describe a model of behaviour for each individual. It is proposed that long-term drifts in well-being, that might be early indicators of an underlying physical or psychological condition, can be detected by analysing subtle changes within the behavioural model. The objective of such a system is to provide the stakeholders involved with an intuitive early warning system in order to facilitate appropriate intervention by care providers leading to a reduction in the cost of care to the state and increased quality of life for the individual.

The domain of social care provision in the UK is described in detail, including an analysis of local authority social services referral procedures, and suggestions made as to the role of well-being monitoring for such service providers. Ethical issues have been addressed by explicitly coding choices about sensor types and their usage into the system design tool. System deployment issues are discussed including installation processes, service provision, and functional specification which lead to the key technical challenges that must be overcome for low-cost pervasive systems to become a practical reality across all local authorities in the UK.

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