Technology to the Rescue For Aging Populations
A villa on the campus of Maple Knoll Village, a continuing care retirement community in Springdale, has been transformed into a learning and test environment for the development of technologies aimed at keeping seniors in their own homes or communities longer.
Known as the Innovation Collaboratory House, the villa is a partnership between several University of Cincinnati (UC) colleges and Maple Knoll Village. It’s home to telehealth robots and patient simulators, and is now the testing ground for innovative student projects aimed at detecting falls, preventing medication errors and making life easier for an aging population.
UC and Maple Knoll Village hosted a public open house and ribbon cutting to showcase this innovative partnership and “smart” villa on Thursday, June 26, from 10 a.m. to noon, on the campus of Maple Knoll Village, 11100 Springfield Pike. Steve Wilson, chairman of the Maple Knoll Communities board, acted as emcee as Maple Knoll Village CEO Jim Formal and UC Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Beverly Davenport, PhD held a proclamation signing and formal ribbon cutting. Senators Eric Kearney and Bill Seitz were on hand to voice their support for this necessary project.
“An ever-growing population of older adults need health care,” says Jim Formal, CEO of Maple Knoll Village. “Every month, more than a quarter million Americans turn 65, and Ohio ranks sixth in the nation in the sheer size of this age population.
“It’s imperative that we develop technologies that allow people to age in their homes or communities for longer periods, leaving long-term care placement as a last resort.”
Debi Sampsel, who holds a doctor of nursing practice degree and is chief officer of innovation and entrepreneurship at the UC College of Nursing, has spearheaded the creation of the Innovation Collaboratory House. She says that without innovations like the ones being developed there through collaboration with UC’s colleges of nursing, medicine and engineering and applied science, Ohio Medicaid expenditures will consume half of the state budget by 2020 and continue to increase in subsequent years.
But aside from financial reasons, Sampsel agrees that, for many, aging in place can improve quality of life.
“We’ve all heard stories of family members and friends who believe their loved ones would have been better off if they were able to remain in their own homes or communities to live out their final years,” says Sampsel. “The Innovation Collaboratory House at Maple Knoll Village allows us to work directly with an aging population to find out what kinds of technologies would make aging in place a real possibility.”
But, Sampsel says, because aging in place isn’t a solution that will work for those with more serious health needs, the Innovation Collaboratory House also gives UC and Maple Knoll Village the opportunity to train future health care providers in the care of geriatric populations.
The UC Mascot snaps photos with guests at the event
Projects currently under development at the Innovation Collaboratory House include:
•A fall detection system that uses technology many already have in their homes—the Microsoft X-Box “Kinect” video game system.
•The use of exoskeleton technology to assist the elderly with sitting and standing.
•Development of systems and sensors that monitor the opening and closing of things like refrigerators and even medication dispensers.
Nursing and medical students and residents are also using the on-site telehealth robots to train for a future of health care interactions that could take place via telehealth technologies.
UC and Maple Knoll Village have a 30-year history of working together in nursing, medicine and pharmacy education and practice.