Technology can create better pathways toward living autonomously
January 10, 2022
Over the past several months, technology has played a key role in transforming healthcare, creating new pathways for care in the wake of the pandemic. We’ve seen accelerated transformation in the healthcare space, and now, there are many emerging use cases showing how technology can be used to solve ongoing challenges, optimize experiences, and help transform the lives of Canadians who need tailored support.
Of the many groups who can benefit from personalized care, those living with diverse abilities are of critical importance. There are nearly 300,000 individuals with an intellectual disability across Ontario alone, and countless more across the country. For these Canadians, a personalized approach to in-home support can transform daily experiences giving them the freedom to live autonomously.
Personalizing care isn’t always easy as the supports needed can vary greatly from one person to the next. As a result, many do not always receive the specific care they need, which can negatively impact quality of life and put added pressure on support services, family members and communities.
Cisco has been working to meet this challenge head-on through an approach that combines collaboration with the power of technology. Together with York Support Services Network, Reena, META, CLASS, and Creating Alternatives, and funded by an investment from Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration Program, we’re introducing the Autonomous Living Project (ALP), a pilot to bring forward a new way of enabling people with developmental disabilities to live independently.
The ALP is a platform designed to provide the support needed for users to easily complete daily routines, and for family members and caregivers to support remotely. Through a desktop and mobile application, it offers remote monitoring, smart notifications, alert services and smart device integration, letting users set and view tasks, and receive reminders and alerts – all of which help to manage day-to-day activities.
The program is powered by Cisco Webex and Meraki sensor technology. With the capabilities of Cisco Webex, users can access easy-to-use, high-quality, and secure integrated video calling, anywhere at any time. With Meraki technology built in, the platform brings together Internet of Things (IoT) technology and touchpoints to create safe, secure, and intelligent environments. Meraki sensors can tell users when a door opens or closes, if the tap has been left running or monitor fluctuations in temperature or humidity, all of which gives users greater control over their physical space and greater peace of mind.
From the caregiver’s perspective, they can integrate directly with the users’ tasks, calendar and notifications. For example, if a user has missed a task, they can help prompt them to complete it or if the user is waking up during the night, they can receive a notification that the user is having trouble sleeping, giving the option to call and check in.
It’s this combination of functionality that allows the user experience to be truly customized, giving the right in-home supports needed to live independently. For example, at dinner time, users can be notified that it’s time to eat, be prompted with a recipe and create a shopping list for next time. If the fridge is left open, sensors send a notification to close it. After the meal, if a user wants to video chat with a family member, they can do so right through the app.
The benefits of implementing technology-driven platforms like the ALP go far beyond transforming how users accomplish daily tasks. It has a significant impact on building a more equitable and connected community. For many living with developmental disabilities, they don’t always get to choose how to live but solutions like the ALP puts choice in their hands.
Users can also benefit from a wider circle of care through greater access to traditional supports and services that will benefit them most, as well as more informal supports like friends and family – regardless of where they are located. This is particularly important when it comes to easing feelings of isolation, especially as we face ongoing waves of the pandemic.
The program represents a real-world application of technology used for good. At Cisco, we’ve seen that technology can be the conduit for better outcomes, and the potential of The Autonomous Living Project to build delivery capacity in developmental services is immeasurable. Using ethical and scalable technology solutions, we can create a more inclusive future for all.
Read more about Cisco’s Autonomous Living Project at Cisco.ca
Eric Thibault, Director, Industry Solutions & Country Digitization Acceleration, Office of the CTO, Cisco Canada