Virtual reality driving simulators to test whether seniors can keep their licenses, apps that allow dementia sufferers to stay in their homes, and online simulated training for residential carers — aged care is going high tech with a $34 million federal government funding boost.
Announced today, 42 cutting-edge projects will harness technologies to improve care for Australian seniors, according to Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt.
“Australians deserve an aged care system that is responsive and sustainable and empowers them to receive the services they need. My priority is a flexible system that people understand works for them, not against them,” Wyatt said.
Included in the innovation grants is a trial of virtual reality driving simulators to test the driving skills of older people and help determine whether they should relinquish their licences.
Seed funding will go towards adaptive technology projects using smart home devices and apps to increase the time dementia sufferers can safely live in their homes.
A Virtual Seniors Centre will also be created to connect isolated seniors.
Nan Bosler, president of the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association, welcomes technology in aged care and says it can be used to empower older people and encourage independence.
“Technology has made an incredible difference to the lives of us all. It is also making an enormous difference to the aged care/home care industry. We must ensure that it has a positive impact on those who need care in their ageing years. We need to make use of technology to improve their quality of life. Not control their lives but help them to manage their lives,” Bosler told Healthcare IT News Australia.
In other grants, care provided to dementia patients will be improved through an online, simulated training program for residential providers, as well as a project offering ‘virtual’ support for rural carers.
The grants include funding aimed at improving access to aged care services for seniors in multilingual and remote Indigenous communities.