Assessing the mental health needs of older people

Assistive technology: aids, adaptions and equipment


Assistive technology is the name given to aids, adaptations, equipment and telecommunications within the home which assist disabled and older people with daily living tasks and help them maintain independence and quality of life. The term covers a wide range of technologies and products, from simple bath seats and stair rails to 'lifeline alarms', safety devices such as gas shut-off controls, and monitoring systems which alert a control centre if someone has or has not performed a certain action. Many innovations have been designed to protect and monitor older people with dementia who live alone or are left alone for periods, and these can play a valuable role in maintaining people at home, so long as they are not used as a substitute for the provision of personal contact, support and care.

For two years from April 2006 the Department of Health will be providing a Preventative Technology Grant to provide investment in developing telecare services within social care and support systems. (35) Liam Byrne, Under Secretary of State for Care Services, explained the government's support for such services in July 2005: 'Telecare offers choice and flexibility of service provision, from familiar community alarm services that provide an emergency response and sensors that monitor and support daily living, through to more sophisticated solutions capable of monitoring vital signs and enabling individuals with long-term health conditions to remain at home.'

Key research finding

Assistive technology needs to take account of the environment and be in line with service user preferences.

Further information

For more about assistive technology, see the Foundation for Assistive Technology website, which contains an online database of over 500 assistive technology research projects, and an annual report, 'RAPID'.

For more about telecare, see the Telecare Learning and Improvement Network.

Next: Financial entitlements