McLean Care awarded $1.15 million innovation grant funding to trial smart home technologies for older Australians

In 2020 team members Yolande Strengers, Sarah Pink, Larissa Nicholls and Melisa Duque will be conducting research into the trial of smart home technology with older Australians. The project will explore how technology might be able to support positive ageing and create increased opportunities to age in place without loss of independence.

From a highly competitive field of over 600 applications across the country, McLean Care has been awarded more than $1.15 million in innovation grant funding from the Department of Health to undertake a trial of smart home technology with older Commonwealth Home Support Program recipients.

Partnering with specialist researchers from both Deakin and Monash Universities, the project will explore how technology might be able to support positive ageing and create increased opportunities to age in place without loss of independence.  Participants will be supplied with a range of smart  technology devices such as smart power plugs, digital voice assistants, smart light bulbs and window/door sensors.

The feedback that participants provide about the devices trialled through the project will be published on a website with the aim of providing valuable insights for other older people and their carers who may be considering using similar technologies in their own homes.

Associate Professor Yolande Strengers is leading the team from Monash University’s new Emerging Technologies Research Lab.  She explains “our researchers will meet with older people in their homes to discuss what types of devices may be useful for them, the impacts of the technology on everyday living and independence, and how smart home devices could be better designed to suit older people.”

Associate Professor Ben Horan (Director CADET Virtual Reality Lab) from Deakin University has expressed his team’s delight to be working with McLean again.  “This is the first trial of its kind that we are aware of in Australia that uniquely looks at a wide range of  off-the-shelf plug and play devices. Deakin researchers will be looking at the nuts and bolts of how they can be integrated to work seamlessly to better support independent living for older people, which is an exciting prospect.”

The trial is commencing in February 2020 and will be completed by June 2020.   It is hoped up to 25 households from Tamworth, Inverell, Gunnedah and Toowoomba will take part, reflecting McLean Care’s commitment to service delivery for older people living in regional, rural and remote communities.

“Receiving this significant grant funding demonstrates that a community organisation from regional NSW that is passionate about “thinking outside the square” can deliver a project with national ramifications.  Building on the success of our multi-award winning virtual reality project for older drivers earlier this year, this new project will continue to explore innovations that can support older people who want to stay living in their homes and connected with their communities as they age,” said Sue Thomson CEO McLean Care.