Smart system of integrated health care and home care in Slovenia
ICT-based assistive services (AS) have the potential to increase quality of living, safety, wellbeing and interpersonal relationships for older adults and their informal carers. In Slovenia, ASs haven’t been upscaled and until recently, no ICT-based AS was available. E-Care service provided by Telekom Slovenije (TS) is already scaled up and it is the first nationwide available ICT-based AS in Slovenia. It enables active, independent and safe living at home – to the elderly, patients with chronic diseases, and to disabled persons; supports caregivers (CG) by simplifying their day-to-day tasks and reduces their concerns around health and safety issues. It is being offered to both, users and municipalities. Especially the latter have great interest, hoping e-services will lower costs of the institutional care, by allowing people to live at home for a longer period of time.
Equipment (base unit with SOS button, wearable SOS button, fall detector, movement and door sensors, smoke detector, flood detector, etc.) is installed at user’s home enabling triggering an SOS call when needed. Environmental sensors detect unusual behaviour and alert caregivers and assistance centre (which is available 24/7). CG have the app installed on their smartphone enabling them remote monitoring and real time alerts.
Main stakeholders/beneficiaries: assistance centre, older adults and patients with chronic diseases, CGs and family members, emergency services, TS.
The partnership spent approximately 2 million EUR for the development, clinical study and the implementation of the ICT service.
Evidence of success
Study, conducted prior to E-care implementation, showed that occurrence of (potential) critical events related to serious health issues and corresponding consequences (fall or stroke) and fear of recurrence of critical events are amongst the biggest fears of older adults’ family members and informal carers which can be greatly reduced by the use of E-Care service. During the evaluation, users have been surveyed, and experiences and their benefits have been documented.
Before starting E-Care, TS had to obtain the appropriate permissions, since social security services are regulated by the government in Slovenia.
Another difficulty is getting users, as older people are often resistant to adoption of the new technology and perceive it as being intrusive.
Potential for learning or transfer
In Slovenia and other EU countries and regions, ICT-based ASs have rarely been upscaled and E-Care is the first service of this kind available in Slovenia. Experiences and problems that have arisen during the process of its implementation, and results of the pilot study conducted prior to its implementation, can therefore serve as an important starting point for other regions/countries which are at the initial stages of the deployment of these services.
Also, the system itself can be transferred to and applied in any region/country to address rapid aging of the population and growing share of chronic patients on the one side, and the desire of the elderly to live in their own home independently for as long as possible on the other.
Other regions/countries can also pursue E-Care’s goals of connecting healthcare and long-term care stakeholders into an integrated system that will provide users with comprehensive care at a distance.