Aug 3, 2022

Assistive Technology Products & Services Bundles for Dementia Management

Announcements, Partnerships, Research, TDRA Investigators
couple looking at smart home monitoring

Increasing age is the most well-known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. As the Canadian population ages, the number of seniors living with dementia continues to grow.

Many people living with dementia (PLWD) are able to live at home with help from caregivers/care partners. However, to reduce the challenges and costs associated with aging-in-place, strategies to sustain health and social services are needed.

This is exactly how a team of Toronto researchers plans to use their Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant. Led by Dr. Rosalie Wang, Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Brian Chan, Affiliate Scientist at KITE-Toronto Rehab-University Health Network, the team will investigate the utility of assistive technology products and services bundles for dementia management in Canada.

Assistive technology products (e.g., reminding devices, personal emergency systems) and services, together called ‘AT’, help PLWD to live better and more safely. For the best outcomes, PLWD and their caregivers/care partners often require groups of AT, or ‘AT bundles’. Unfortunately, AT in Canada is provided in a piecemeal way due to inconsistent funding.

In this project, researchers will use mixed-methods (e.g., literature review, survey, interviews) to understand the full spectrum of AT bundles available in Canada, including how they are paid for. Then, they will host workshops where PLWD, their caregivers/care partners, and others involved in managing dementia will help to design ideal AT bundles that can be personalized. These AT bundle prototypes will then be economically analyzed to determine delivery costs and associated impacts.

The project will be informed by several key collaborators, including Chaitali Desai, who is a PhD student and a member of TDRA’s Lived Experience Advisory Partners (LEAP) Council. In 2020, Chaitali began as a research volunteer in Dr. Wang’s lab at the University of Toronto. A shared interest in dementia management and systems technology led Dr. Wang and Chaitali to put the CIHR grant application together with help from Dr. Chan.

Chaitali will be directly involved in conducting the research as part of her PhD through the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto. In supporting a loved one with dementia, Chaitali has also personally experienced the challenges this grant aims to address. “I have recognized that having access to affordable and appropriate assistive technologies, such as smart home technologies, would have helped to ease the challenges I experienced in providing care for my mother,” said Chaitali. “Access to these technologies might have also delayed placement into a long-term care facility.”

In her role with TDRA, Chaitali is also part of the Neurotechnology Research Working Group (RWG), which will also collaborate on this grant. Members of the group, like Dr. Amer Burhan, will be involved throughout the project helping to provide feedback, translate results, produce deliverables, and assist with knowledge translation.

Congratulations to the entire project team for securing a CHIR Project Grant for this important work. We look forward to following the progress and results.

Rosalie Wang
Dr. Rosalie Wang
Brian Chan
Dr. Brian Chan
Chaitali Desai
Chaitali Desai

Other Project Members:

  • Alex Mihailidis, University of Toronto, Department of Biomedical Engineering

  • Amer Burhan, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences

  • Natasha Layton, Monash University, School of Primary and Allied Health Care

  • Homira Osman, Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada