In 2019, McLean Care – an award-winning specialist not-for-profit regional, rural and remote aged care provider – received a Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) innovation grant from the Australian government’s Department of Health.
As part of the grant, McLean Care partnered with specialist researchers from Monash University’s Emerging Technologies Research Lab and Deakin University’s CADET Virtual Reality Training and Simulation Research Lab to trial smart home technologies in older people’s homes with the aims of:
– Understanding how smart home devices can support older people in improving wellness outcomes and living independently in the home;
– Evaluating the benefits, opportunities and challenges of incorporating smart home devices into older people’s homes and lives; and
– Understanding the usability challenges, expectations, hopes and anxieties older people have of smart home devices in assisting them to live more independently and to improve their wellness and wellbeing.
Older people have typically been a marginalised or undervalued group in the design of smart home devices, and have therefore been insufficiently accounted for in many user studies. Data revealed in the 2019 Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) shows substantial differences in the rates of digital inclusion between Australians living in rural and urban areas, and Australians who are aged 65 or older. Research confirms that older Australians are increasingly concerned about being ‘left behind’ in the digital age, and highlights the concomitant need for proactive policy and research initiatives to help close this gap.
The Smart Homes for Seniors project (also known as Intelligent Home Solutions for Independent Living), was designed to address the research and knowledge gaps relating to older people’s use of smart home technologies, and evaluate their potential for supporting wellbeing and independence in regional and rural communities.
The project was unique in its interdisciplinary research methodology, which combined ethnographic insights, electronic data from the devices showing participants’ usage patterns, user reviews and a short end-of-trial survey.
We appreciate the time and contribution of all the householders who participated in this research, who welcomed us into their homes and shared their valuable insights and data.
Acknowledgement of Country
We wish to acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nations, on whose land the Monash and Deakin university teams work; and the people of the Jukumbal, Kamilaroi/Gomeroi Nations, on whose land the McLean Care team work and on whose land this project was undertaken. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present, and emerging.