Policy Challenge 2019-2020: Technology-Based Supports for Aging in Place: Are they Effective?

AUTHOR(S) & CREDENTIALS: Amélie Gauthier-Beaupré, BSc, PhD(c)


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Heather Higgins, Coordinator: Policy and Knowledge Exchange & Candice Pollack, Executive Director AGE-WELL Innovation Hub: APPTA

What inspired you to begin working on this project? Describe the main issue or challenge the project aims to solve.

When the call for applicants for the 2019-2020 Policy Challenge came out, I was immediately interested and saw an opportunity to leverage the work that I do in my PhD project. Particularly, one of the policy questions focussed on documenting effective technology-based supports to facilitate aging in place. My PhD research is well aligned with this question with a slanted focus towards policies in this sphere. Specifically, I am focussing on the role of policies to facilitate aging in place using technology-based supports. The policy challenge was an opportunity to shed light on the state of effectiveness research for technology-based supports on 3 levels, clinical effectiveness, cost effectiveness and ethical implications. Existing evidence is usually limited to portraying one of the effectiveness components therefore a report that encompasses all three components in one location was needed.

Briefly summarize the project.

In this project, I conducted a literature review that examined existing technology-based supports that facilitate aging in place. The final report presents an assessment of the technology-based supports based on their clinical effectiveness, cost effectiveness and ethical implications. Some significant advancements and gaps are highlighted for four subgroups of technology-based supports (behaviour and safety monitoring technologies, fall prevention and monitoring technologies, medication management and optimization technologies, and smart home technology). Based on the findings, I was able to provide 2 actionable policy recommendations to increase the evidence base and increase ethical decision-making in community organizations.

Discuss some of the past, present, and/ or intended future real-world applications of the work.

This work sheds light on an increased need to consider effectiveness of technology-based supports on numerous levels (clinically, economically and ethically). It could be leveraged into increased partnerships and collaborative approaches with institutions across Canada to assess technology-based supports that are meant to facilitate aging in place for older Canadians. Policy-makers from across jurisdictions and all levels should consider the application of the recommendations to their ongoing and future work in the realm of aging in place.

If applicable, identify any important policy implications of this work.

This work is highly relevant to a policy audience due to the opportunities for actionable change and necessary systematic approaches. First, policy stakeholders could seek the creation of partnerships with institutions from across Canada to discuss the potential for developing systematic frames for assessing technology-based supports aimed at facilitating aging in place. Second, there is an opportunity to increase the integration of diversity considerations in the work of community organizations by using a gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) approach. Policy-makers would be key actors in transferring the knowledge of such diversity approaches to community-level stakeholders.