Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Smart ICT Solutions for Active and Healthy Ageing: Integrating Informal e-Care Services in Slovenia

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.03.00  Social sciences  Sociology   

Code Science Field
S215  Social sciences  Social problems and welfare, national insurance 

Code Science Field
5.04  Social Sciences  Sociology 
active and healthy ageing, neformalna oskrba, user-centered methodological approach, ICT-based assistive services
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (15)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  34636  PhD Eva Bertok  Political science  Researcher  2017  60 
2.  30704  PhD Jernej Berzelak  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2016  122 
3.  23497  PhD Barbara Brečko  Sociology  Researcher  2017  115 
4.  52570  Tomaž Burnik  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2019  14 
5.  08430  PhD Matjaž Debevc  Communications technology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  627 
6.  23424  PhD Vesna Dolničar  Sociology  Head  2016 - 2019  333 
7.  22639  PhD Simona Hvalič Touzery  Sociology  Researcher  2017 - 2019  497 
8.  28323  PhD Matic Kavčič  Sociology  Researcher  2018 - 2019  124 
9.  34497  PhD Ines Kožuh  Interdisciplinary research  Researcher  2016 - 2018  146 
10.  38051  Bojana Novak-Fajfar    Technical associate  2016 - 2019 
11.  27574  PhD Andraž Petrovčič  Sociology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  290 
12.  17097  PhD Arso Savanović  Computer science and informatics  Researcher  2016 - 2019  97 
13.  38019  Mojca Šetinc  Sociology  Technical associate  2016 - 2019  49 
14.  10155  PhD Vasja Vehovar  Sociology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  840 
15.  36910  Marijana Zelenik  Interdisciplinary research  Researcher  2018  21 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0582  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences  Ljubljana  1626957  40,373 
2.  0796  University of Maribor, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science  Maribor  5089638003  27,529 
3.  2426  SMART COM d.o.o. Computer and Communication Systems  Ljubljana - Črnuče  5315727  104 
The need of older adults to live at home for as long as possible, increasing costs of long-term care (leading to unsustainable health and social care systems), and burdened informal carers can nowadays no longer be ignored. These characteristics of an ageing society are pressuring Slovenian policy makers, industry, researchers, and civil society organizations to develop and mainstream ICT-based assistive services (ASs). Despite the growing body of evidence about ICT-based ASs’ positive effects, Slovenia is in its infancy regarding the adoption of smart solutions for active and healthy ageing (AHA).   The project develops an integrated theory-driven and evidence-based approach in order to stimulate the uptake of technological solutions for AHA for a “triple-win” outcome: 1) improved well-being of older adults and their informal carers; 2) financial gains for the health and social care sectors; 3) new market opportunities for providers of ASs.   The project will address these problems by pursuing three main aims: Understanding how an usable, sustainable and affordable ASs on a cloud-based platform for the prolonged independent living and AHA of older people can be (re)designed to consider both the needs of older adults and their informal carers; Testing and evaluating the ASs in a realistic environment involving care receivers and caregivers in their home environment;  Outlining a methodological approach that would allow the active involvement of end-users throughout all stages of the R&D of ASs.   The project will include a study of the redesign and exploitation of a cloud-based home care AS (CareSignal), developed by the co-funding organisation, which will comprise of various components of telecare and telehealth.   The project breaks new ground by developing: An innovative socio-technical model to evaluate acceptance factors of care receivers and caregivers in relation to the (re)design of ICT-based ASs for independent living at home, which could be used for generating new design solutions and setting new deployment guidelines for ASs. This approach will result in a comprehensive understanding of older adults' and their informal carers' needs, abilities, social support, motivations and values, their perspective on costs and benefits, and the perceived quality of the ICT-based ASs, all of which are relevant to their willingness to accept ASs. A novel methodological approach based on the idea of iterative design that will consider older adults and their informal carers and will be validated with extensive user involvement throughout the R&D process. Such a participatory approach will facilitate a move from technology-driven to user-centered design to R&D of ICT-based ASs. Needs and perceptions shall be studied in three stages: 1) eliciting user needs and generating general design ideas; 2) evaluating existing AS in lab settings and real environments; 3) generating specific redesign ideas, culminating in suggestions for new or improved functionalities and characteristics of the CareSignal.   The project brings together over two decades of internationally recognized interdisciplinary research by the project team in areas of social informatics, methodology, including mixed-methods data collection and evaluation designs for elderly, gerontechnology, experience with large international empirical digital inclusion and AHA (FP5, FP6, FP7, Erasmus+, LLP, Interreg) projects, as well as R&D of ASs, online learning games and mobile applications for older adults.   The core research team will cooperate with two researchers from University of Maribor, who have participated in more than 60 projects and are internationally recognized specialists in HCI and User Experience for older adults and impaired persons, as well as with the co-funding organization Smart Com, a Slovenian leading high-tech company with a strong R&D and commercial interest in the application of ICTs for AHA, which has been involved in numerous (inter)national R&D proje
Significance for science
The project will provide important scientific outcomes that warrant further scientific developments in at least two regards. First, by advancing and reinforcing the knowledge base on the acceptance of ICT-based ASs by older adults and their informal carers, it will have an important impact on the fields of social informatics, gerontechnology, ambient assisted living (AAL), human-computer interaction (HCI) and sociology of ageing. Secondly, by pursuing scientific rigor and excellence in establishing a methodology of participatory user-centered design of ICT-based ASs, it will have an important impact on the methodological advances for design, development and evaluation of new ICTs. The project is addressing one of the most intriguing questions regarding the social impact of new technologies – that is how the acceptance and use of ICTs and ICT-based services is related to questions of active ageing and independent living being important qualities of intergenerational solidarity in contemporary societies. The project will advance the knowledge in this respect by investigating an under-researched, but highly relevant question of what are the needs, abilities and contexts of a heterogeneous group of older adults and their informal carers when studying acceptance of ICT-based ASs. This newly developed integrative approach will present an innovative comprehensive socio-technical analysis of the acceptance of specific ICT-based ASs among older adults and informal carers as a result of collaboration of an interdisciplinary team of excellent home researchers and foreign experts covering different relevant fields: acceptance of technical and social innovations in the field of AAL (Prof. Buhr, Dr. Pavlickova), gerontechnology, AAL and HCI (Prof. Miesenberger, Prof. Lundberg, Jean-Bart) and social informatics (Prof. Taipale). The second valuable scientific impact of the project refers to the development of an original methodological approach to R&D of assistive technologies for older adults and informal carers, which is based on principles of user-centered design, participation and integration. The proposed methodological approach will be developed in order to study the use and usability of ICT-based ASs among the older adults and informal carers that will be based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods as well as on active inclusion of potential end-users. By demonstrating the importance of optimized user­centered design process with a sophisticated methodology that shall secure a more inclusive involvement of older adults and informal carers in developing ideas with a high potential for technological innovation, we expect high impact on the scientific field that deals with such issues. Conceptual, methodological and empirical deliverables of the research project are expected to be published in top scientific publications (at least 3 scientific articles in top 10% journals and 7 additional visible international publications).
Significance for the country
Numerous direct impacts on various societal levels are expected as a result of this applied project: (1) for the co-funding organisation, (2) for economy in general, (3) for individuals, (4) for the state/society. Impact for business partner: A direct impact for co-funding organisation shall be provided based on results of identifying the needs of care receivers and caregivers for assistive services (ASs), which industry wrongly treats as a homogenous group. Thus, it will be able to response to their needs by providing both groups with adequate ASs. Further, a methodological approach could be directly used by the business partner in an efficient (redesign) of future ASs. Applying such methodology could minimize the financial risks, improving the capacity to deliver an innovation to the market. Impact for companies and economy: It is expected that the methodological approach for an iterative user-centered (re)design of ASs will be applied also by other companies in AS technology or other service business. Project’s outputs offer many ideas for new business models in the AS market and/or for innovative solutions in the telecare market. Slovenian startups such as MESI Medical, which is currently a global market player for medical diagnostic tools, could therefore extend their portfolio to telecare services. The project shall also pave the road for further applied research with public and private care service providers and/or other business partners in Slovenia. Impact for older adults: The proposed research activities are foreseen to contribute to an improved personal life of care recipients and caregivers. Through delivering applied knowledge, the project is supposed to increase their wellbeing, enhance and support a sustainable long term provision of social and health care for the ageing population through the effective use of useful, affordable and usable ASs in home environment. By addressing the needs of both groups in key areas of high impact such as activities of daily living, security, medical assistance and social support, a path is opened for active ageing, delivering positive impacts on older peoples’ quality of life. Impact for state/society: The proposed R&D activities can have a direct impact on lowering the burden of informal carers, enhancing existing digital care models of home care services providers, as well as optimizing the financial aspect on the health and social security system by complementing their functions. The highly probable success of such ASs in the context of the current absence of such services in Slovenia will hopefully give a boost to new policy developments for initiatives that have been already strongly advocated on the EU level, but scarcely implemented in Slovenia (the leading partner is currently also involved in the proposal writing within the Interreg Europe call to additionally contribute to policy enhancement in this field).
Most important scientific results Interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
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