Introducing digital technology into aged care

Dr Merran Cooper, CEO

Touchstone Life Care

Aged care is an increasingly important area in healthcare, and technology is helping to drive improvements in the quality of care that elderly people receive. Research into aged care technology is helping to develop new solutions to some of the most pressing challenges faced by healthcare providers and elderly care recipients, assist their implementation, and address barriers to their uptake and sale. 

A key focus of research in this area is on the development of systems and devices that can monitor the health and wellbeing of elderly people. Wearable devices such as smart watches and fitness trackers can be used to monitor vital signs such as heart rate and body temperature and can alert carers and family members if any changes occur. These devices can also be used to detect falls and can provide data on the activity levels of elderly people. 

Another key focus of research is on the development of systems and devices that can provide assistance to elderly people in their homes. This includes the use of robots and other automated systems to help elderly people with tasks such as cleaning and laundry, as well as providing reminders and notifications about medication and appointments. There are a number of systems and devices available that allow for video conferencing and remote monitoring of elderly people's health and wellbeing. These systems allow for real-time communication between elderly people and their carers, as well as providing information on changes in vital signs. 

Research has begun into the use of technology to improve communication between elderly people and their carers. Cloud-based care plans are being utilised to provide elderly individuals with the ability to easily create, share, manage, and access their own personalised care plans and advance care plans. Additionally, this technology is allowing care providers to share information more quickly, streamline communication, and keep elderly people more informed about their care. Research into this technology includes learning how to create digital systems that are easy to access and navigate, even for those with some cognitive decline, to ensure that elderly people are receiving the most effective and person-centred care possible, and their families and carers are part of an informed care team for shared decision-making.  

Technology can be especially difficult to implement in aged care due to the complexity of the caregiving environment. Aged care is often provided by multiple carers in multiple locations, with different levels of technology literacy and training. This can make it difficult for technology to be efficiently integrated into the caregiving process. Therefore, future research must include how human factors impact the uptake and implementation of technology. These factors include an aging population with varying levels of technical literacy, a lack of understanding of the technology and how to properly use it, and a lack of resources, such as time and money, to properly support the technology. Additionally, many elderly people may be resistant to change or may not be able to easily learn how to use the technology. 

Perhaps one of the greatest barriers to the adoption of digital technology in aged care is the lack of customer support available. Without adequate customer support and education, elderly people, their carers and care providers, may be unable to use the technology properly or may be unable to access the features and benefits of the technology. This can lead to a lack of trust in the technology, which may further hamper its adoption. Research into the best way to support new innovations after implementation is lacking and this is an area that needs to be further explored. 

Technology is making a huge impact in improving the quality of life for many elderly people. Alliances between different organisations, such as healthcare providers, technology companies, and software developers, will help to overcome the challenges faced by elderly people and their caregivers. ARIIA is supporting, collaborating, and collating these alliances to ensure that evidence-based technologies that make a real difference are developed, implemented, supported, and funded.  


*The views and opinions expressed in Knowledge Blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of ARIIA, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.

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In a 2022 survey, the Australian aged care workforce identified technology in aged care as a priority topic for the sector. The Knowledge and Implementation Hub has bought together the research evidence and created short easy-to-read summaries of the research evidence about technology in aged care.