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Assistive Technology and Independent Living

Assistive Technology

Technology and Living Independently

Independent living

Independent living revolves around disabled persons. It entails opportunities to make decisions affecting one’s life. It ensures that the individuals enjoy their rights in life (Carswell et al. 2009). Independent living fights for equal opportunities and full participation of an individual in society.

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Users of the services

There are different users of these products. The major ones are patients. Medics and personnel working in the health centres are also consumers. Their major role is to help the sick or the physically challenged (Demers, Weiss-Lambrou & Ska 2002). Some scholars also visit the centres for learning and research purposes. Such people are also users.

Assistive technology in health and social care

Assistive technology can be defined as a system that helps individuals with some form of disability. It allows them to perform a task that would otherwise be hard to carry out without the technology. The intervention also offers security to the patient (Carswell et al. 2009). Assistive technologies are grouped into three. The supportive cluster helps patients to complete routine tasks. Responsive technologies help in managing risks that may affect the clients. On its part, the preventive category protects the patient from harm. Memo minders, medication dispensers, and smoke detectors are good examples of assistive technologies.

Assistive technologies provided to Sally

An eye patch is the first assistive gadget Sally is provided with to deal with her visual problems. After two years, she complains of another problem relating to her ankle. The ankle-foot orthosis she is offered is an assistive technology to help support her leg. The cane is also an important intervention to help her movement and stability. There are other types of gadgets she is provided with. One of them is dressing sticks. Others are devices to help her in the kitchen (Edyburn 2000). The patient’s car is also customized to help her. To this end, it has a spinner knob. An accelerator is also fitted on the left-hand side. Sally is also provided with a hand-held digital assistant (PDA). The device is to help her in regaining her memory. All these technologies are meant to help her live independently.

Barriers Associated with the use of Assistive Technologies

Barriers with regards to independent living

The use of assistive technology is associated with different barriers. One of them is cost. Most of the machines are very expensive. Not all people can afford them. Most of these machines are also complicated to use. A lot of time is required to train the user on how to handle them. Another barrier associated with assistive technology is maintenance. Only qualified professionals can handle these procedures. The process may be challenging, especially where money is required and the maintenance technician cannot be easily accessed. Frequent breakdown of some gadgets is also a barrier in supporting independent living (Edyburn 2000).

Challenges Sally is likely to face

Sally is likely to face a number of challenges when using the assistive technologies she is provided with. The biggest one entails the usability of the gadgets. Most of the technologies are new to her. It is challenging to know how to use them automatically. Consequently, Sally will need help in operating the technologies (Carswell et al. 2009). She may also face challenges in maintaining the technologies. It requires time to adapt to the new changes.

Limiting barriers associated with assistive technology

Barriers to assistive technology can be limited in different ways. Education is one of the strategies that can be used. A barrier created by a lack of knowledge on how to use the gadgets can be eliminated by educating people. In addition, reducing the costs of assistive technology can help many people who are in need of those gadgets to achieve independent living (Lenker & Paquet 2003). Having more technicians who can deal with the problems associated with the devices is another way of reducing the barriers.

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Benefits of Assistive Technology

Benefits to users and carers

Users of assistive technology benefit through increased choice, control, and independence. Most of the people suffering from debilitating conditions do not have to be assisted to carry out their duties if they have access to the technology. The gadgets give them the right to choose what to do and when to do it without bothering anyone. Most of the people who are responsible for their actions are relieved of their duties through the use of supportive technologies. The gadgets also reduce the costs associated with maintaining these people. For example, monitoring by medical staff is costly compared to the use of assistive technology (Edyburn 2000). People using the gadgets are also relieved of the stress that is caused by worrying about who will attend to them during their times of need.

Benefits to Sally

The eye patch helped Sally with her vision. No one will need to support her to see. Consequently, she is now living independently. The ankle-foot orthosis helped support her ankle. The pain she was feeling was relieved by the gadget, making the ankle stable. As such, she does not have to rely on other people to support her. The cane also helped her with regard to mobility. She is now able to move freely without the support of others. The dressing sticks, kitchen aids, and other gardening tools will help her in carrying out simple domestic chores (Cahill, Begley, Faulkner & Hagen 2007). The customized knob, as well as the accelerator, is also important. The two will help in driving. Her memory was boosted by the PDA. At the end of the day, she has the freedom to control her life with the help of this technology.

Benefits to organisations

Health and social care agencies have specific roles to play. One of them is to maintain the safety, dignity, and independence of their clients. Assistive technologies help these entities prevent hospital and premature admissions. They help to ensure that people lead independent lives (Haynes, Shackelford & Black 2007). Lack of these technologies would lead to congestion in health centres as people seek help for different needs. The situation may make it hard for medical practitioners to handle all these cases. Financial benefit is another advantage of assistive technologies. The interventions help these entities to save money that could have been used supporting the clients.

Health and Safety Considerations in the use of Technologies in Health and Social Care

Health and Safety

Health and safety legislation 1974

The legislation states that the safety of people in different workstations must be guaranteed in terms of health and proper working conditions. The guarantee extends to anyone who may be affected by work activities in any location (Haynes et al. 2007). The persons affected may be students or visitors. Various responsibilities are assigned to different parties by the legislation to ensure that the environment remains safe at all times. A number of issues are addressed in this legislation. One of them is safety in mines. The other is the presence of asbestos in the workplace.

Considerations to be made when using assistive technologies according to the health and safety legislation

One of the considerations is the safety of the user and those around them. The legislation provides that assistive technology should assure individuals of their safety. The next consideration is the reduction of risks. Positive risk management is encouraged to achieve this objective. To this end, the legislation states that the decisions made should not harm other people in the society (Lenker & Paquet 2003). In addition, assistive technology is only meant to provide help and independence to people living with disabilities.

Health and safety considerations in supporting Sally with assistive technology

The first safety consideration involves her sight. She is advised to use an eye patch if she has any vision problems. The patch is meant to train the brain to use the eye with weaker vision. Its use is a safety consideration given that it has no negative effects on her life and those of other people around her. The use of a cane and an ankle-foot orthosis ensures that Sally is able to move independently without posing any risks to her life (Haynes et al. 2007). The home gadgets are designed taking in mind that whenever she uses them, she should feel safe. The special knob and the customised accelerator also help. They enhance her safety while driving. The gadgets ensure that she is safe when driving. The hand-held digital assistant is the most important of all. It is meant to help her with memory.

Ethical Considerations and Assistive Technologies

Definition of ethics

Ethics refers to the idea of doing right or wrong. It touches on what the law requires and the religious beliefs of an individual. It is also defined by what the society accepts as moral (Peterson, Peterson & Murray 2006). It can also be regarded as a branch of philosophy. When viewed this way, it is seen as a discipline that deals with values relating to human conduct and behaviour.

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Ethical considerations and assistive technologies

Ethical considerations define, among others, technologies to use and how to interpret them. Assistive technologies are required to make the user independent. However, in some cases, the individuals are isolated from the rest of the community. According to ethics, such alienation is against human rights (Peterson et al. 2006). Justice is another ethical consideration with regards to the use of assistive technologies. It is important to treat each patient fairly and to respect their rights.

Benefits of adhering to ethical guidelines

One of the benefits associated with ethics is protection. Following the ethical guidelines ensures that the users are protected from any acts that may be harmful to their person. The provisions also promote efficiency in the provision of assistive care and technologies. In addition, health standards are improved by adhering to ethical guidelines (Peterson et al. 2006). It is also noted that the provisions enhance justice and human rights. The two are important when supporting users of health and social care.

Implications of failure to adhere to ethical guidelines

Ethical guidelines create a culture where patients are treated with respect. Failure to follow them promotes injustice. Poor quality work and services are some of the disadvantages associated with this development (Zwijsen, Niemeijer & Hertogh 2011). Ineffective administration of assistive technology can also result from failure to follow ethical guidelines.

Promoting compliance to ethics

Compliance to ethics with regards to assistive technologies can be promoted through laws. Simple legislations that punish those who go against the standards can be a good way to promote ethics. Some people are treated unethically because they are not aware of their rights. In relation to the use of assistive technologies, patients should be educated on how they should expect to be treated by the medical practitioners (Riemer-Reiss & Wacker 2000). When they are so informed, the clients can object to any actions they deem to be unethical. Such a move can help in promoting ethics in the use of assistive technologies.

Emerging Assistive Technologies and Health and Social Care

Emerging assistive technologies

New assistive technologies are coming up in the field of health and social care. Telehealth and telecare are examples of such recent interventions that are aimed at improving the lives of individuals with social needs. Telehealth helps people with such conditions as heart failure, diabetes, and chronic pulmonary diseases. Telecare is meant to assist people through remote monitoring (Zwijsen et al. 2011).

Impacts of emerging assistive technologies

Impacts on care workers: Positive impacts on these stakeholders include making their work easier and promoting good health among patients. Negative impacts include time wastage in learning how to use the new technologies (Haynes et al. 2007). Other disadvantages include complications associated with the use of the new systems.

Impacts on organisations: Organisations are affected in a positive way considering that they benefit from reduced costs of services. In addition, quality of processes and services improve. Negative impacts revolve around costs. A lot of money is needed to buy the new assistive technologies (Riemer-Reiss & Wacker 2000).

Mini Report


In this report, the author analysed the issue of assistive technology in relation to its ability to help people with disabilities live independently. A case study of a 41 year old female was used to highlight the various issues associated with this form of technology. To this end, it was found that innovations can be used to support users of health and social care services. The author also concluded that health and safety considerations are important when using this technology. A number of ethical issues were also discussed.

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Maggie’s Specific Needs

The client has several requirements. Some of them are discussed below:

Specific needs

The elements are defined variously. They include the requirements of an individual at a given time. The needs are brought about by a specific condition.

Needs of people with dementia

Such people need to be understood and respected regardless of their mental status (Cahill et al. 2007). In addition to supporting them, it is important to ensure that they regain their sense of identity and self-esteem. Chatting with them and showing affection can make them feel better.

Maggie’s specific needs

It is noted that the client has a number of requirements. For example, she needs someone around her. She needs a person who can make her feel at ease (Cahill et al. 2007). She should also have access to medication. She needs to have her chores done. The client is incapable of meeting most of these wants without help.

Assistive Devices for Maggie

The client requires assistance. She needs devices for memory recovery. She also needs help to recover her speech and mobility (McCreadie & Tinker 2005).

Benefits of technology

Advantages of assistive technology

Assistive technology promotes independence of people suffering from dementia. It also facilitates memory recovery. Management of risks around the home is also promoted by the technology. The devices reduce stress levels among users (Peterson et al. 2006).

Examples of assistive technologies

Memory aids, medication aids, and locator devices are assistive technologies that can help Maggie. Memory and medication aids are expensive. The high costs make it hard for some people to purchase them (Phillips & Zhao 1993). However, they are effective. They help in achieving independent living.

Assistive technologies that may help Maggie

Locator devices, medication aids, and reminder messages will be helpful to Maggie. They can resolve her problems of skipping medications and escaping from home. Devices to help her walk safely and improve her sight would not be of help (Abascal & Nicolle 2005). The reason is that Maggie’s dementia is not associated with sight or walking problems.

How technology may not promote Maggie’s independence as her dementia advances

Technology may not promote Maggie’s independence as her condition advances. For example, if she completely loses her memory, then memory aids would not be effective. She will need a person to help her (Abascal & Nicolle 2005). Having a person always by her side does not promote her independence.


Supporting independent living helps people with different problems regain their freedom of choice. Different assistive technologies should be used to help these persons regain their lives. Ethical guidelines should be adhered to. The aim is to promote justice by making sure that the rights of the individuals are respected.


Abascal, J & Nicolle, C 2005, ‘Moving towards inclusive design guidelines for socially and ethically aware HCI’, Interacting with Computers, vol. 17, pp. 484-505.

Cahill, S, Begley, E, Faulkner, J & Hagen, I 2007, ‘It gives me a sense of independence: findings from Ireland on the use and usefulness of assistive technology for people with dementia’, Technology and Disability, vol. 19 no. 2, pp. 133-142.

Carswell, W, McCullagh, P, Augusto, J, Martin, S, Mulvenna, M, Zheng, H & Jeffers, W 2009, ‘A review of the role of assistive technology for people with dementia in the hours of darkness’, Technology and Health Care, vol. 17 no. 4, pp. 281-304.

Demers, L, Weiss-Lambrou, R & Ska, B 2002, ‘The Quebec User Evaluation of Satisfaction with Assistive Technology (QUEST 2.0): an overview and recent progress’, Technology and Disability, vol. 14 no. 3, pp. 101-105.

Edyburn, D 2000, ‘Assistive technology and mild disabilities’, Mental Retardation, vol. 612, pp. 10-16.

Haynes, S, Shackelford, S & Black, B 2007, ‘Safety regulations and the employment of people with disabilities in automated manufacturing environments’, The Journal of Rehabilitation, vol. 73 no. 1, p. 38.

Lenker, J & Paquet, V 2003, ‘A review of conceptual models for assistive technology outcomes research and practice’, Assistive Technology, vol. 15 no. 1, pp. 1-15.

McCreadie, C & Tinker, A 2005, ‘The acceptability of assistive technology to older people’, Ageing and Society, vol. 25 no. 1, pp. 91-110.

Peterson, D, Peterson, B & Murray, G 2006, ‘Ethics and assistive technology service provision’, Disability & Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, vol. 1 no. 1-2, pp. 59-67.

Phillips, B & Zhao, H 1993, ‘Predictors of assistive technology abandonment’, Assistive Technology, vol. 5 no. 1, pp. 36-45.

Riemer-Reiss, M & Wacker, R 2000, ‘Factors associated with assistive technology discontinuance among individuals with disabilities’, The Journal of Rehabilitation, vol. 66 no. 3, p. 44.

Zwijsen, S, Niemeijer, A & Hertogh, C 2011, ‘Ethics of using assistive technology in the care for community-dwelling elderly people: an overview of the literature’, Aging & Mental Health, vol. 15 no. 4, pp. 419-427.

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