The benefits and limitations of assistive technology

Assistive technology can help to support and enable people with dementia to live more independently. It may also help to support and reassure their carers. However assistive technology may not be the answer for everybody. This page provides case study examples to demonstrate the benefits and limitations of assistive technology and the importance of assessment and evaluation.

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The benefits and limitations of assistive technology

  • Date: 19.07.2007
  • Format: pdf - 111kb

What are the benefits of assistive technology?

Assistive technology can help to support and enable people with memory problems including Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia to live more independently. For example, assistive technology and telecare can help to:

  • remind the person to take their tablets at the right time
  • help locate a lost item
  • orientate the person that it is day time or night time
  • assist the person to phone a relative or friend using preprogrammed numbers or pictures
  • switch on the lights automatically if the person gets up at night time
  • switch off the gas automatically if it has been left unlit
  • alert a carer or monitoring centre that the person needs assistance.

Assistive technology may also help to support and reassure carers. For example, it may free carers to spend better quality time with the person. Or it may enable a carer to get a good nights rest, knowing that if the person gets up at night they will be alerted.


What are the limitations of assistive technology?

Assistive technology may not be the answer for everybody. People have different needs, abilities and preferences and 'one size does not fit all'. Some people may benefit from additional carer support or services rather than using technology at all.

If assistive technology does not meet the individual needs and preferences of the person it may be ineffective or may even cause additional confusion or distress. For example, assistive technology and telecare may not be the answer if:

  • the person switches off or unplugs the equipment
  • the person is confused or distressed by any alarm sounds or recorded messages
  • there are insufficient carers or care workers to respond to an alert.

Assistive technology on its own cannot provide human contact and personal care. Many older people experience loneliness and social isolation. Technology should only be provided as an addition to contact and care, not as a replacement.


Case study examples

The following case studies provide real life examples of some of the benefits and challenges that occur with the implemention of assisitve technology and telecare. They highlight the need for comprehensive assessment and evaluation.

The Safe at Home scheme, Northampton

The Jack Dawe specialist homecare team, Nottingham

North Lanarkshire Council

For further case studies and examples of telecare in action please see the factsheet section of the Telecare Implementation Guide.

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