Perspectives on Rehabilitation and Dementia

By Mary Marshall | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 26
One Size Does Not Fit All:
Person-centred Approaches to the
Use of Assistive Technology

Stephen Wey


Introduction

Over the last five years I have been working as part of an intensive home treatment and rehab team for people with dementia. We work with people who would previously been likely to have been admitted to hospital for 'assessment' or who, having already been admitted, often for medical reasons such as falls or acute illness, find it hard to return to their own homes. Often there is a considerable degree of actual or perceived risk. In the course of these five years it has become apparent to me that not only has the pace of development of technological solutions such as assistive technologies increased rapidly, so too have their availability and the level of awareness of their potential benefits. There is still a long way to go, but I have no doubt that in the next few years occupational therapists will increasingly be finding themselves being asked 'Can you assess this person for a gas sensor?' in situations where previously they may have been asked 'Can you assess whether this person needs their gas cooker isolating?'. This has led me to ask some basic questions about why and when we would use such technology. I find myself asking not just where it would be useful and appropriate, but also where it would not be, or where it might in fact get in the way or cause more harm than good.

My starting point is that rather than mystifying the use of assistive technology by getting too hung up on its technical sophistication (and too often scaring ourselves off in the process), we need to get back to basics and understand it within the context of a process of rehabilitation. It seems to me that, whether we

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