What is informal care? Taking on a wide variety of activities that people in need of care can no longer perform on their own. Through direct caregivers who have not completed nursing training, such as relatives, but also neighbours or friends. Stefanie Lindstaedt, Managing Director of the Know-Center, spoke about exactly this topic at the TEDx Talks of the Med University of Graz, and that too from her own experience because she looks after her grandmother informally.
“As a Data Scientist,” says Lindstaedt, “I have often asked myself the following question: How many other people are there who are confronted with the same situation as me? What do these people find stressful and what support do they need? A look at current figures shows that informal care is a widespread phenomenon.
One million informal carers in Austria
About one million Austrians care for older people informally. About 73 percent of them are women, about 31 percent have a job in addition, 28 percent have to reduce their working hours. And, about half of all informal carers neglect their own health through care, 10 percent even fall ill themselves through and due to the stressful situation. The figures speak for themselves.
In her presentation, Lindstaedt focused on concrete forms of support that informal carers want and how innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence could contribute to them. For example, the Know-Center launched the DALIA research project, which was funded by the European Commission. The aim of this project was to identify the types of assistance from which informal carers could benefit. In order to achieve this, the experts of the Know-Center collected a lot of data and came up with interesting results.
75 percent of the respondents thought that a virtual avatar could help them with their care. 80 percent thought that they would be willing to pay up to 40 euros per month for such a service. And, for almost all of them, data protection and security is the most critical aspect that would have to be taken into account with such a service.
Based on these findings, the Know-Center finally developed EMMA, a Virtual Assistant for the individual care of elderly people. Emma can not only determine whether people in need of long-term care are getting adequate sleep, but can also tell whether they are following their daily routine or whether there are deviations from it and whether people in need of long-term care are taking their medication. EMMA also offers an integrated calendar, which informal nurses can use to manage doctor visits and other appointments. By the way, patients can communicate directly with the Digital Assistant via a voice interface. It also includes all the typical functions of Assisted Living, such as emergency assistance, fall detection and stove and fire alarms.