A training program in smart home technology for occupational therapists working with community-living older adults
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The older adult population is growing. Many seniors will need more care in order to stay at home, and some will find it necessary to move into an institutional setting (National Institute on Aging, 2017). However, there is a growing trend for senior adults to want to remain at home and age in place. Occupational therapy practitioners whose work takes place in home settings have the opportunity to enable these individuals to preserve their independence. Recent advancements in smart home technology provide applications for this form of assistive technology in situations where an older person with a disability can remain in the home because of advances in (Mahoney et al., 2009; Mann et al., 1999; Tomita et al., 2007; van Hoof et al., 2011) automation or remote controlling that minimize the assistance needed from others. However, older adults may not have the base knowledge to set up these devices for themselves. Occupational therapy practitioners can serve as a bridge to enable older adults to use smart home technology in their homes by bringing together their expertise on home modification, assistive technology, and understanding of the person, environment, and activity/occupation (Maitra & Vasquez, 2011; Waite, 2015). This proposed program is designed to empower occupational therapy practitioners to be the bridge that enables older adults to use smart home technology. It is an evidence-based, theory-driven workshop that will provide instruction on different aspects of smart home technology, including guidelines for assessment, education, and implementation with older adult clients. Within a span of eight hours, instruction will include short lectures and videos, as well as opportunities for hands-on practice using case studies and actual work with smart home technology. Occupational therapy practitioners will become a knowledgeable part of the home care modification team; they will be prepared to apply a client-centered understanding of smart home technology and will have acquired the professional terminology to discuss smart home technology and its application for home modification with other non-health care professionals. Participants will also gain the tools to advocate for occupational therapy and smart home assistive technology to family members, caregivers, manufacturers and insurance providers.
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