All Ireland Seminar on Designing and Developing Technologies for Palliative Care

The Context

People with palliative care needs often speak about their loss of independence, being dependant on other people for simple tasks and their fears for example of falling or being unable to stay at home. Technology can provide a way for people to feel empowered and have a sense of autonomy. Palliative care needs are expected to rise in this century, with over 40 million people worldwide likely to need palliative or end-of-life care for a life-limiting or chronic illness. Technology offers a unique opportunity to support people with palliative care needs and their families, for example with symptom assessment, self-management, communication, environmental control and mobility. To respond to this challenge researchers in health, science and engineering share a responsibility with health care professionals to support successful evidence-based development of practical solutions that meet the needs of people with life-limiting conditions.

The Seminar

This timely All Ireland seminar, jointly funded by the HRB and HSC R&D, focussed on the challenges for people with palliative care needs, latest national and international research in palliative care and technology; and what this means for researchers if they are to generate knowledge that can support the introduction of technology.

The day provided valuable insights and perspectives from international and national speakers and panel discussions. Over 37 organisations on the island of Ireland attended the event that included researchers, clinicians, industry partners, funders, service providers, policy makers and people with life-limiting conditions, carers and interested citizens through our Voices4Care panel.

Some of the highlights from the day included presentations from the expert speakers on the challenges in designing technology to understand the needs of the user, the ethical considerations and viability of bringing the solution to market. As well as the positive impacts technology can make that allow people to stay at home with remote symptom management, sensors to prevent failing and support mobility, service robots who can provide both practical and social support, web based end-of-life care education and radar technology to provide touchless monitoring of vital signs at end-of-life.

During an open session, participants had the opportunity to discuss and explore with the expert speakers several key topics, including the innovation process, practical and ethical issues, research priorities, implementation, academic-industry collaborations and learning from past experiences.

The key message from the day was the importance of including all key stakeholders in designing and developing technologies. This includes the user, researchers (health, science, engineering, business/marketing), clinicians, service providers, industry partners, funders, charity partners and policy makers from the start. In order to avoid duplication, maximise expertise and resources to work together on solutions that improve the quality of life for the person with palliative care needs whether they are at home, in a hospice or hospital.

We would like to acknowledge our speakers on the day, Dr Tobias Steigleder, University of Erlangen (Germany), Professor Lorenzo Chiari, University of Bologna (Italy), Dr Maria Bulgheroni, Abacus Milan (Italy), Dr Mariko Masujima, Chiba University (Japan), Dr Geraldine Foley, TCD, Dr Fiachra O’Brolchain, DCU, Dr Patricia Fox, UCD, Dr Stephen O’Driscoll, SFI, Dr Claudine Kearney, RCSI, Tim Jones, Bioinnovate NUIG, Professor Suzanne Martin, Ulster University and Professor Dympna Casey, NUIG. Also our panel members Ray Elder, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and Candace Lafleur CR Robotics.

For More Information

Agenda: link

Watch the video presentations from the seminar: link

Additional presentations given at the seminar: link1 and link2

If you have any queries or comments about the seminar please contact Dr Mary Rabbitte, Research Programme Manager AIIHPC at mrabbitte@aiihpc.org.

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