The Use Of Assistive Technologies Information Technology Essay

In this unit the term “assistive technology” encompasses all technologies (high tech, low tech and no tech) which aid people (disabled or normal) to go about their daily life effectively and independently. In order to properly understand the uses and importance of Assistive Technology, some examples are sited below:

A short sighted student puts on glasses so he/she can read, thus, the glasses are an assistive technology.

A dyslexia patient cannot read the prescribed course texts and hence needs text-to speech software to scan and hear the words. Therefore both the scanner and the text-to-speech software are assistive technologies.

Also it has being noted that managing money is not the only problem that we are being faced with in this present society. There are also problems of facilities, technologies and the need for health care professionals to work efficiently in satisfying clients wants and demands, which tends to be a vital issue.

Scenario:

You have been recruited to work in a care home for 3 months. The care home has a limited access and availability of today’s assistive technologies. The manager introduces you to staff and residents as an experienced and valuable member of staff who has a good background in today’s assistive technology that is used within the health and social care sector. Your main role is to develop an understanding of the value and the use of the assistive technologies, its applications and implications on service and service users.

In relations to the above scenario write a detailed assignment covering the following points:

1

Investigate the use of and access to appropriate assistive and communication technologies for health and social care by:

Describing a range of technologies and devices available for use within health and social care.

Firstly, a brief introduction should be made on the meaning of Assistive Technology. These devices can be devices that substitutes or enhances physical or mental ability. According to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Assistive Technology devices are termed as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities”. These devices can be any homemade or commercially sold device which helps individuals perform some daily tasks and hence ranges from low tech to high tech (pencil grips, Braille readers, etc)

In the UK, the government tend to encourage equal participation of all individuals especially those with disabilities and thus, extends the use of AT in the health and social care sectors. Prior to this, disabled personnel’s are considered as priorities in all cases which then lead to the term called Accommodation in the use of AT devices.

WHAT THEN IS ACCOMODATION?

It might sound rather daunting in using this word here, but it also plays a vital role as it relates to a way of modifying tasks for the disabled so that they can participate equally regardless of the nature of their condition. For instance, the use of calculator for a disabled student that cannot remember mathematic figures is a way of accommodating his/her present conditions.

Below is the list of devices and products of different assistive technology been used.

Ambulation

Architectural Access

Child Care

Communication

Computer Hardware

Computer Software

Ergonomics

Farm Management Adaptations

Health/Medical Equipment

Hearing Technology

Home Management

Mobility

Orthotics

Personal Care

Prosthetics

Recreation

Seating

Switches

Therapeutic Aids

Transportation

Vision Technology

Vocational/Educational

Working Animals

Ambulation

canes

cane accessories

crutches

crutch accessories

walkers

walker accessories

Architectural Access

bath tubs

bathroom remodel

bathroom sinks

cabinets

ceiling track lift

chair stair lift

doors/auto open

drinking fountain

elevators

house plans

kitchen remodel

kitchen sinks/appliances

lighting

pool lifts

ramps

safety/security

showers

toilets

wheelchair lifts

Child Care

cribs/playpens

high chairs

mattresses/bedding

monitors

strollers

walkers

Communication

augmentative communication devices (electronic)

book holders

communication boards

electric page turners

head wands

light pointers

manual page turners

mouth sticks

personal voice amplification

reading machines

signal systems

telephone access

television adaptations

typewriters

typing aids

writing aids

Computer Hardware

Braille printers

computer supplies

computer work stations

cursor control

expanded keyboards

interface adaptation

keyboards

key guards

mini keyboards

other keyboards

printers

special computer systems tactile printers

visual accessories/modifications

voice recognition systems

voice synthesizers

Computer Software

assessment/evaluation/training

communication

educational

large print

recreation/games

special access

switch operated

talking

tools/word processing/database

voice recognition

Ergonomics

arm/wrist supports

back supports

CRT access

ergo joystick

industrial workstations

office workstations

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seat/chair

tools

Hearing Technology

alert/signal systems

audio loop systems

FM amplification systems

Hearing aids

infrared amplification systems

personal amplification systems

TDDs/TTYs

telephone adaptations

TV amplifiers

TV decoders

Home Management

beds/mattresses

food preparation

housekeeping

lift chairs/lift cushions

other furniture

protective bed/padding

shopping aids

special pillows

Health/Medical Equipment

blood pressure/pulse

diabetic equipment

dispenser aids

other medical equipment

pressure monitors

scales

signal systems

stethoscopes

thermometers

Mobility

adult bikes/trikes

adult light weight

adult travel chairs

car seats/bed

child light weight

hand operated trikes

manual stretchers

manual wheelchair

patient chairs

portable ramps

power stretchers

powered standing wheelchair

powered wheelchair

recliner

sports/racing

standing wheelchair

strollers

three-wheeled mobility devices

travel chairs

Orthotics

braces

foot orthotics

helmets

restraints

splints

supports

Personal Care

bathing accessories

carrying

dishes/utensils

drinking

feeding accessories

feeding devices

grab bars/grips/handles

grooming

hygiene

incontinent supplies

mechanical transfer lift

reaching

shower/bath chair

smoking

stationary commode

toileting accessories

transfer board

wheeled bath chair/commode

Seating

bolster chairs

corner chairs

decubiti’s cushion

other cushions

other therapeutic seats

postural support hardware

postural support systems

pressure monitors

wheelchair cushion

Switches

mounting hardware

other switches

wheelchair controls

Therapeutic Aids

ambulation training

balance training

crawling/scooting

elevated mat tables

exercise equipment

fine motor

gross motor

hydrotherapy

mats

pain relief

Para podiums

perceptual motor

positioning

prone standers

rolls/inclines

sensory integration

sexual aids

side lying boards

stand tables

strengthening

supine standers

treatment tables

upright frames

Transportation

assistive accessories

driving controls

motorcycles/conversions

ramps

seat belts

vehicle access

vehicle conversions

vehicles

wheelchair lifts

wheelchair loaders/carriers

wheelchair restraint systems

Vision Technology

braille

clocks/watches

labeling

large button phone

large print books

magnification systems

magnifiers

sensors/safety/security

speaker phone

taped/audio books

calculators

other devices

talking equipment

Vocational/Educational

adjustable tables

classroom equipment

education/instruction

literature/books

office equipment

tools

vocational assessment/training

Describing a range of communications technologies available to services and service users.

In order to communicate properly within each other as integrated by the social and economic needs, some Sign language has being developed in recent years especially for the Deaf ones and partially deaf. Nowadays, not only the deaf needs communication training and courses but also relatives of the deaf, teachers, therapist and students of Sign Language are all participants. Below is the list of some basic communication devices that can be used by individuals

List of communication devices that can be used by individuals

augmentative communication devices (electronic)

book holders

communication boards

electric page turners

head wands

light pointers

manual page turners

mouth sticks

personal voice amplification

reading machines

signal systems

telephone access

television adaptations

typewriters

typing aids

writing aids

Analysing barriers to the use of assistive technologies in health and social care

Funding: Although it has being proven to be cheap but the fact is that most AT’s are expensive and since most of the individuals cannot afford it, then they might not be able to have it unless something is done towards its provision to clients. Therefore in other to tackle this, other NGO, supported housing provision, private insurance, medicare, Medicaid, etc. can all be encouraged to support

Poor short term memory in elderly ones

Lower motivation and learning level present at elderly age

Change in users need

Unavailability of a particular device

Explaining benefits of technologies to organisations and individuals.

Wellford in (Birren, J. 1959) agreed with the importance of AT which makes life easier for the elderly, but was pessimistic as well saying that these devices deteriorates rapidly as the complexity increases.

Benefits of AT to individuals

We are all aware that whenever change is being made, everyone wants to know the benefits of it to us. For instance, in the political field, different parties campaign for election, but before people cast their vote, they will like to know the manifesto and intentions of various candidates and what they have to offer which will be beneficial. Similarly, these disabled ones will like to know the benefits of these devices before they can accept it and listed below are some of the benefits of AT to individuals;

This can be categorized into different sections as illustrated below;

Activities of daily life

Inner relations

Outer relations 

The category applicable to individuals is the inner relations which encompasses of;

Helping individuals to have a good self-esteem

Building up their confidence by the use of the devices

By also ensuring that they are safe from harm and risks

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By relieving them of some or all of their initial pains

By eliminating discomfort in their lives

Benefits of AT to organizations

Cost effectiveness: Most assistive technology and housing adaptations are much less expensive in the long term than conventional homecare, providing cost savings through reducing or removing existing spending on homecare

Security: the use of AT’s in most organisation has led to a well secured environment which makes the organization safe from harms and intruders. Examples of such AT’s include, CCTV, door

(Word Count: 1250 Words)

2

Analyze how technology can be applied to support independent living by:

2.1 Analyzing how the use of assistive technologies may support independent living.

As we all know, AT can only be beneficial if the solutions have a usability value for the individual end user. Prior to this, clients who also are humans have different needs in life which they will want to be respected and considered when introducing any device to them. These needs are classified as below:

Physical (body) -Basics (food warmth, shelter), Protection, Medication

Intellectual (Mind) – Education, Stimulation

Emotional (feelings) – Support, love, respect

Social (people) – friends, mixing with others, seeing friends & family, translators,

Cultural-Ethnicity, religion, festivals, dress, language, diet, prayer times, community magazine

From the above, we can now ensure that all or some of these needs are considered when providing devices for them. Fortunately for us and them as well, different AT’s have being developed which supports them in the following ways;

Different ways in which AT supports individuals

Moving about in the home

Knowing what clothes to put on

Lifting up and holding a child

Getting up in the morning

Opening and shutting windows

Understanding and being understood

Dressing and undressing

Managing incontinence

Moving about for shopping and banking

Making food to eat

Managing medication

Driving

Playing various games

Access to educational material and school

Access to media

Access to computers and regular software

Weeding of garden, etc.

The illustration below shows how one of the AT helps support independent living

Mr D has dementia. The calendar clock reminds him of the date and time, and he can use his pendant alarm to call for help if he needs to

.

Evaluating the use of assistive technology for one specific health and social care service user.

The most common AT equipment available to most individuals

Product

Description

Pendant alarm

Alarm button which can be pressed to call for help.

Easy 5 phone

Easy-use mobile phone

Memo minder

Provides reminders, e.g. ‘It’s night time, best go back to bed’

Smoke detector

Linked to call center

Companion

Allows shopping to be ordered from home

Magi Plug

Prevents sink / bath overflowing

Making recommendations of how assistive technologies might enhance services for individuals with specific health and social care need

Conclusions cannot just be made on how AT is important to the disabled without firstly, acknowledging that its efficiency is based on some criterions like;

Characteristics of the individuals user

Characteristics of the AT in use

The service delivery process

The integration of provision services into rehabilitation strategy

Reasons for using AT equipment

The most common problems which AT equipment were used for are:

Difficulty contacting Carer

Risk of fire

Memory problems

Fear of intruders

Difficulty shopping

(Word Count: 1000 Words)

3

Evaluate implications of developments in assistive technologies which have potential for application in health and social care by:

3.1) Describing health and safety considerations in the use of assistive technologies.

New and innovative approaches to supporting carers of older people, such as technology, are now emerging (Sorensen 1997). But it has being proven by the department of health and safety that some of these AT devices can as well poise to endanger the health of individuals, hence some precautions has to be made in regards to this. Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 concluded by ensuring safe workplace

Ensures safe workplace. Employees should report all accidents & unsafe practices. Insists employers regularly audit their premises & act on any unsafe practices

3.2) Analyzing ethical considerations in the use of assistive technologies.

Before considering getting an AT for clients, we should firstly remember that they are our priority and thus, have to be consulted before to ensure;

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Their preference is maintained

They are aware of the AT

They express their feeling about the decision

Their values and principles are maintained

All the aforementioned leads us to what is called a good ethics in AT. But clarity has to be made about what ETHIC is. According to Leubben (2003), “Ethics is the systematic reasoning of and critical reflection on morality” from the definition some core principles have being developed about ethics and they are

THE CORE ETHICAL PRINCIPLE

The principle of non-maleficence (do no harm)

The principle of beneficence (striving to be of benefit to someone/aiming to do good)

The principle of justice (treating everyone fairly)

Respect for patients’ autonomy (respecting someone’s rights to things like self determination, privacy, freedom, and choice and also, informed consent)

Adapted from Pellegrino et al (1989)

From the above principles and definition, it can hence be deduced that when providing AT for individuals, we must be sure that;

It does not put individuals and the organization at harm

It will be of good use and benefit to the individual, organization and other stakeholders

The individual have being accessed and confirmed to need the required AT

It does not violate any of the individuals personal beliefs, values, culture and principle

It agreed and supported by both the individual, organization and other stakeholders(e.g. relatives)

It conforms to the health and safety requirement standard set out by the legislations and policies

It will not bring about different relationship between care worker and client

3.3) Describing the impact of recent and emerging technological developments on health and social care services, organizations and workers.

Impact of recent technology in the setting

Replacing direct human contact with clients: Technological initiatives, however, are often developed primarily for economic reasons rather than to promote the social inclusion of older people and their carers. According to Magnusson, Hanson and Borg (2004), overall elder participants and their carers respond positively to such initiatives. In contrast, participating nurses express concerns that technology may replace direct human contact and obviate the need for professional staff (Whitten et al. 2003). Such attitudes may change as professionals become more accustomed to using technology in the workplace (Danskey and Bowles 2002).

Enhancing proper interaction within each other: Flatley Brennan et al. 1995) suggested the use of “computer-link” which encourages carers to discuss issues with each other using a public bulletin-board, have ready access to an electronic encyclopedia of information, and receive individual advice and support through private emails from a nurse facilitator both within and outside the organization

Developing of individuals: the introduction of AT’s to the organization has span up the need of organization to develop their individuals by sending them on trainings, seminars, workshops, etc. for an exploitation of knowledge which will in turn be useful to the organization and the individual as well.

Making individuals feel safe: individuals can now work and at the same time feel safe knowing that whenever they need help, it is always available to them by just simply, dialing a number or pushing a button. This has led to some compliment statements from individuals like;

“I could easily get help in an emergency”

3.4) Suggest how assistive technologies might influence the role of workers in health and social care in the future.

It is likely said that every thing has an advantage and disadvantage. Similarly these recent assistive technologies/ devices have its own advantages and disadvantages not only to the service users but also to the workers/carers that uses them. A recent survey shows that 80% of Carers agreed that AT’s had helped them in their caring role. Below are likely reasons influences of AT to workers;

Access to informal advice and support from fellow carers, increased self-confidence in decision-making, and in some cases reduces worker strain (Bass et al. 1998).

Access to User-friendly websites for carers e.g. In the UK, the Alzheimer’s Society’s Learning to Live with Dementia project has created a user-friendly website with the active involvement of people with early dementia and their carers (www.alzheimers.org.uk).

Reducing the workload on carers with the help of some AT’s for lifting , moving, alert, etc.

It also have some negative influence by making some workers lazy about and depending so much on AT

(Word Count: 1000 Words)

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