Social participation enabled through technology
St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences develops communication platform for the elderly
Increasing digitalization is changing access to more and more services. New forms of participation are arising: from the procurement of everyday necessities to healthcare and public transport and the organisation of the community such as contact with authorities. This is also relevant for the elderly. At the same time, social and health challenges are increasing due to a shift in the age structure of society and its associated costs to the community.
Digitalization of services
"There is a growing need and an increased demand for assisted living in combination with nursing services, psychosocial and preventive-health services and the easy and autonomous procurement of regional products and services", said Johannes Pflegerl, from the Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research at St. Polten UAS.
In two projects entitled BRELOMATE (Breaking Loneliness with Mobile Interaction and Communication Technology for Elderly), researchers at St. Pölten UAS have in recent years developed and tested the prototype of a gaming, information and communication platform for the card game Schnapsen and video telephony. Such a platform could reduce the social isolation of the housebound elderly. A television in combination with a control tablet forms the heart of the platform.
From the gaming platform to help with shopping and assisted living
The recently launched Umbrello project is now examining which platform functions can be extended. In a situation of assisted living, contact between the elderly and socio-medical services as well as relatives could be provided via the platform. Through computer-assisted, human-led training, the television could motivate the elderly to participate in fitness exercises, and experts could answer questions concerning care, hygiene, exercise and nutrition in online- question times.
An easy-to-use platform could allow senior citizens to participate in online retailing. Networking with the regional economy could support local and regional trade. Through open-government initiatives and citizen services, the platform could make participation and access to government services easier for the elderly, thereby strengthening their integration and equality.
The Umbrello project as well as the Brelomate projects, are funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology in the framework of the “benefit” programme. The Departments of Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Media and Digital Technologies, Media and Economics and the Service and Competence Centre for Innovative Teaching & Learning (SKILL) at St. Pölten UAS are involved in the project.