Being more autonomous playing games

Valencia, November 3rd 2016.- New technologies offer a wide range of possibilities, also for improving the quality of life of older person and their caregivers. It is within this field that WeTakeCare ( initiative falls. A project funded by the Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) program of the European Commission (ref 2012-5-036) and in Spain, by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism.

As a result of this initiative coordinated by Instituto de Biomecánica (IBV), `we have developed a usable system oriented towards both the older person, with mild to moderate physical difficulties, and the caregiver. This platform is designed for older people in order to increase their performance activities of daily living (ADL) playing and consulting support material. ´

As Mercedes Sanchis explains as IBV Head of Innovation of Health Promotion, `we have designed a versatile platform (that can be used with different devices such as TVs, PCs and Tablets) offering games and educational material in order to help perform ADL as autonomously as possible and reduce the burden of the caregiver´.


WeTakeCare functions

Platform games train mobility, strength, resistance and balance as well as reduce the risk of falls through gestural exercises. `As in any gaming environment, both user and caregiver can move on to higher levels and check their progress’ adds Mercedes Sanchis. About 10% of the elderly population needs help to perform some activity of daily life, for this reason, the exercises can help maintain physical capabilities that enhance the performance of AVD.

From IBV they remarked that "one of the most innovative contributions of this initiative is to count with a great participation of health professionals, older people and caregivers when designing the system to ensure its usability and functionality.

During the project, based on three iterations development-validation, `we have given prominence to users from the first conceptual design to working prototype. In every iteration we have improved functionality and usability issues identified by older person, non-professional and professional caregivers in Switzerland and Spain´.

One participant said about the system `my mother in law loved it, we were an afternoon of laughs playing´. Meanwhile another of the participants stressed that "it is easy and you can practice at your own pace with the games and learn new ways of doing things with the training material. I hope it will be further developed so it and it can be a reality in many older person homes.´

This platform is complemented with educational materials and alternatives to satisfactorily perform ADLs. It also includes information on support products, use and tips for families.


Improving personal autonomy

Several studies report that approximately 70% of these older people are in fragile situations, they only receive informal care.

The aim of the project has been improving the training and collaboration between the caregiver and the older person, in order to promote independent living of older people in the autonomous performance of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). In addition, it also promotes training and support to the caregiver in providing care, improving the quality of care and safeguarding their physical and psychological health in the performance of their work.

In the WeTakeCare project, led by the IBV, the partners have collaborated from a multinational and multidisciplinary perspective. The Spanish company CPMTI developed web applications, the games have been developed and provided by the German partner Kaasa Heatlh, the University of Zurich (ZHAW) added a heightened awareness of occupational therapy and IBV provided usable and accessible design.

The involvement of older person and their caregivers (sometimes also older person) has been essential and has been carried out by the association of pensioners and self-help VASOS.