HOME SWEET HOME – Health monitoring and sOcial integration environMEnt
for Supporting WidE ExTension of independent life at HOME
Project number: 250449
Project acronym: HOME SWEET HOME
Project full title: Health Monitoring and Social Integration Environment for Supporting Wide Extension of independent life at Home
Started: 1 January 2010 Ended: 31 December 2012
HOME SWEET HOME was funded by the European Commission, under the Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme – CIP PSP.
Find the conclusion and final recommendations at the end of this page.
The HOME SWEET HOME project trialled a new, economically sustainable comprehensive set of home assistance services for independent living.
The Pilot sites (210 users of whom 105 in the Intervention Group)
- Belgium (City of Antwerp, 60 users)
- Catalonia (Town of Badalona, 30 users)
- Ireland (North Eastern Region, 60 users)
- Italy (Town of Latina, 60 users)
The services deployed in each of the sites:
The HOME SWEET HOME service is based on various subsystems which have been merged into a single, comprehensive, senior-friendly service.
- A Monitoring and Alarm Handling Subsystem, consisting of the following components:
- Touch-screen Base Unit (In-Touch)
- Elderly-friendly mobile unit (Mambo)
- Medical devices
- Environmental sensors
- Behavioural analysis and monitoring
- HOME SWEET HOME Portal
- eInclusion Subsytem, constituted by an Ederly-friendly videoconferencing service (ello!)
- Domotic Subsytem
- Daily Scheduler
- Navigation Subsystem
- Mental Faculty Maintaining Subsystem
The Home Sweet Home Consortium was composed as follows:
- Health Authorities (Departament de Salut de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Azienda USL di Latina, Health Service Executive North-Eastern Area, Louth County Council)
- Social Authorities (Zorgbedrijf Antwerpen, Louth County Council, Municipalities of the Latina Province)
- Social Service Providers (Zorgbedrijf Antwerpen, Zorgbedrijf De VoorZorg, Badalona Serveis Assistencials, Darco Servizi, Louth County Council, Municipalities of the Latina Province)
- Healthcare providers (ZNA – Hospital Network Antwerpen, Badalona Serveis Assistencials, Departament de Salut de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Azienda USL di Latina, Health Service Executive North-Eastern Area)
- Technology providers (Digipolis, Klinisch Psychologe St.-Franciskusziekenhuis, Health Information Management SA, Telemedicina Rizzoli, Università La Sapienza – CATTID, Netwell Centre)
- Contact Centre Providers (Darco Servizi, EuroCross)
- Healthcare Insurers (Christelijke Mutualiteit Antwerpen)
- Elderly people representative associations (AGE – the European Older People’s Platform)
- Business Consultants (Health Information Management SA)
Types of users of the HOME SWEET HOME project:
- Older people, benefitting from more independence at home, despite growing physical and mental impairments.
- Relatives and caregivers, who were warned of situations of risk according to the notification of protocols agreed for each type of risk, even when they were far from their carered one.
- Contact Centre operators were supported in their work through the automatic detection of risky and emergency situations and had immediate access to essential information for adequate response (e.g. GPS coordinates of the location from which an alarm has been generated).
- Social Workers kept in touch with older people they look after, even if they cannot be physically next to them, and thus optimising the use of the limited time they have by better targeting their home visits.
- Healthcare professionals monitored frail individuals who are at permanent risk even when they are not within the premises of a healthcare outlet and prevent as much as possible the insurgence of acute episodes.
- Social and Health Authorities received reliable information on demand for services that they have to satisfy and will be therefore able to better plan resources and interventions.
Expected impact/outcome of the HOME SWEET HOME project
- Improving the quality of life of older people by extending their independent life (if they so wish), even if they live alone, while providing a level of safety equivalent or better than that enjoyed in elderly homes.
- Improving the quality of life of caregivers and relatives by offering both respite from the care routine and peace of mind when they are away, knowing that their dears are properly looked after.
- Improving the social connection of elderly people confined inside the four walls of their flat or house by allowing them to stay in touch visually with their loved ones and the Contact Centre
- Compensating for growing physical impairments by easy-to-use domotic devices which make it possible to literally “manage the house from an armchair” if elderly people are no more able to move around.
- Demonstrating a more efficient business model for care provision which reduces the cost of social and health care to elderly people, through better targeting of interventions, early detection of situation of risk and deterioration of mental conditions and closer collaboration among organisations providing care to elderly people.
- Exploring alternative work flows which compensate for the ever growing shortage of formal caregivers and homecare personnel through the deployment of affordable, reliable and user-friendly technology.
- Demonstrating that the same technology for AAL can be deployed successfully in different health and social services set-ups.
- The impact of the HOME SWEET HOME system was measured by comparing a number of indicators for those receiving the HOME SWEET HOME service (the Study Group) and those of another group of elders (the Control Group) over a 27-month Randomised Controlled Trial.
The publication ‘ICT for Ageing Well – Listen to what older persons think!’ presents the outcomes of a small qualitative study with users of ICT solutions that took place in the frame of the EU-funded Home Sweet Home project. Co-ordinated by the project Advisory Board, which was managed by AGE Platform Europe, It is written from the perspective of older persons who use technologies in their everyday living and it aims at shedding the light to barriers and enablers for the acceptance of new technologies that are introduced to help older persons live autonomously and manage better their health.
Instead of discussing elements specific only to the project, the publication is drafted in a way that can be useful to various similar settings and sets of services and is addressed to all the stakeholders who are involved in the development and deployment of such solutions: researchers, service providers, industry and SMEs, public authorities, health and social care professionals, informal caregivers, insurers and mutualities and older persons themselves.
Tests in Belgium, Ireland, Italy and Spain
The Home Sweet Home (HSH) project brought together a set of innovative services, aimed at improving and extending the independent life of older persons. The solution was tested in real life trials in 4 countries: Italy (Latina), Belgium (Antwerp), Ireland (Louth) and Spain (Badalona) and based on the outcomes of the pilot sites, HSH attempted to refine the business case in view of a large-scale deployment. Experts comprising the HSH Advisory Board, observed and had real contact with the older persons and professionals experiencing the HSH technology through visits to the project’s pilot sites. They also coordinated the qualitative study which complemented the statistical results of the project. The work of the Advisory Board was crucial in providing long-term perspectives to the project outcomes. The publication summarises the outcomes of qualitative analysis, which enrich the statistical data, gathered by the project and give a better insight into the personal factors that have affected the users’ appreciation of the devices used in the pilots.
The experience of the qualitative analysis in the frame of the Home Sweet Home project has generated the following conclusions and recommendations about the development and deployment of technological solutions for older persons.
Regarding future research
- Foresee both quantitative and qualitative analysis as both methodologies provide particular insights. Sufficient time and resources should be allocated to enable making links between the two.
- Expert groups (such as the Advisory Board of HSH) should have an important role in future research projects about reading, reviewing and ensuring synergies between different deliverables.
- Include interviews with the staff of the trials to gain insights on the challenges they face regarding their acceptance of technologies and make links with answers provided by participants.
- Document in detail what has changed in the course of the project, how has user involvement, advice by experts or lessons learned changed the development of the technologies and services.
- Explore whether assistive technologies are imposing a medicalised lifestyle to participants.
- Research how (far) technology can help the most vulnerable older persons: those socially excluded, suffering from dementia or depression.
Regarding technological innovation
- Develop sets of solutions that can be tailored to the needs, expectations, lifestyle, preferences and routines of the individual.
- Observe how and where people live to avoid developing solutions that cannot be used in real-life situations.
- Ensure that solutions are reliable before exposing them to users.
- Make solutions robust, attractive and practical, taking due account of energy provision and challenges related to change of batteries.
- Opt for mainstream solutions, integrated – as far as possible – to a single device.
- For health and safety-related devices a back-up should be available in case technology fails.
- Affordability should be at the centre of technological innovation for older persons.
- Although many of these technologies were conceived to reduce the need for personal contact with carers and health professionals, the study has shown that users highly appreciate the contact with the staff involved in the trials. Perhaps these technologies would be more acceptable as a tool to improve the work of health professionals and the quality of life of older persons, rather than a way to save on resources. Further analysis is needed.
- The quite low willingness to pay shows that an individualization of the cost is probably not the way forward. Different financing models should be explored.
- Costs for training, technical support and maintenance should be part of the package.
 They are not formally part of the Consortium but have signed a Collaboration Agreement on a voluntary basis with the Azienda USL di Latina