HomeLab is a ‘home within a lab’ where researchers can invent and test new products to help older people and those with disabilities stay at home longer and more safely. The lab resembles a typical single-storey dwelling with functional plumbing and wiring. Study subjects can occupy the living space and test innovations in a real-life setting, while researchers can observe all studies from an overhead catwalk.
The Research: Researchers are now developing intelligent home systems that can help older adults and people with disabilities stay safely in their homes and improve their independence and quality of life. These systems will provide automated reminders for daily tasks, respond to emergency situations and provide cognitive and social support. Future research will expand these systems to be able to detect changes in a person’s health and provide warnings before the person’s situation deteriorates.
The long-term vision is to incorporate all of these technologies into the home itself through the development of intelligent “bricks” that are embedded within common building material such as walls, ceilings, and flooring tiles.
Other researchers are developing advanced technologies to help caregivers manage common stressful, physically demanding tasks involved in caring for someone at home, such as lifting, bathing and toileting. These products will be affordable, practical and easy to install without requiring modification or renovation of the home.
It has been estimated that 27% of families in Ontario have provided care continuously for the last 2 years.
Almost half of family caregivers report a high level of physical and mental stress while 14 per cent experience physical pain.