Care worker smiling at camera

Disability Innovation: What might the future be for technology and care?

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We are having a tech fortnight to focus on technology and hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field. In this post we hear from George

My name is George and I am a law student at the University of York. I, like most people my age yearn for independence from my family and seek to carve a future for myself. However, achieving independence is made harder when you live with a physical disability which means I occasionally have to depend on carers to assist me with care.

While striving for this independence, I have spent a considerable amount of time wondering what the future of care will look like. As budgets continue to get tighter and tighter, I find myself questioning whether technology will ever fill the place of traditional carers and if so, how will it work? What will it do? And how should it be implemented?

What is out there now?

 At the moment there seems to have been a trend towards inventing more devices to help with care tasks. These are aimed more at the aging population, but cover many of the tasks that millions of adults struggle with every day. The first of such inventions is the Oasis Seated Shower system. This product from America allows a person to remain seated while various outlets provide both water and soap to all body surfaces. The device features a unique seating system that allows a thorough washing of areas that would normally be inaccessible on a traditional shower chair. The entire process can be controlled with either a remote control or in an automated process. This not only means that a person using the device does not need help to do so, but also means that there is less strain on carers looking after people.

Another area where there have been lots of recent developments is toileting. While there have been many innovations in this area such as the introduction of Clos-O-Mat toilets, there has been little in the way of development with incontinence. This rather delicate area has not significantly changed for decades, however, a new product from a company called Novamed could solve some of the problems associated with this care activity. Their new Solaticare device provides a means whereby people who have difficulty transferring or are confined to a bed to use the toilet without having to wear pads. The system is able to remove waste and then provides warm water and warm air to clean the user. This once again means that users can stay in bed and do not have to depend on others. It also means that there is less need to wake up in the night to change pads or clean bedding in the case of accidents.

What does the future hold?

After a whistle stop tour of some of the products that are available, we must look towards the future of care and how it will be provided. Once again there are a number of products in the pipeline that are seeking to help disabled people and the elderly stay independent for longer. One example is the ISupport shower system being developed as part of the European Horizon 2020 event which is seeking to completely automate showering. Another instance is the increasing and experimental use of healthcare robots in Japan to help care for their aging population.

I personally feel it is up to us to be vocal about what we want from this technology. So, what would you do? What would you automate? Would you like to be helped by a machine?

Discuss technology on our community.

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