Technology can help people stay at home longer.
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Should service and housing providers be certified in technology for aging in place?
In nearly every aspect of service delivery, service providers strive to attain certifications of agreed-upon minimum standards of knowledge and competence -- for example: of course there are technology certifications in technology categories (see Microsoft, Cisco). The US Green Building Council has levels of certification for awareness and Green building practitioners.
Now let's get a little closer to home - National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) for building contractors, interior designers, and architects. And the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers also offers certification levels of care and case management. Today, neither of these certifications specifically requires awareness of: wireless home networks, broadband access, or PCs for a professional to get the CAPS certification. And for GCMs, nothing about personal emergency response, fall detection, or chronic disease management technologies. Individuals with an interest may learn on their own, and some training programs offer an overview, but professional associations don't mandate it.
Now let's lay a bit of assumption groundwork: let's assume that you agree that there are four categories of technology for aging in place, as I have argued in the 2009 Market Overview and in presentations with category examples:
- Communication and engagement technologies (email, cell phone, videophone, PC and Internet access)
- Health and wellness technologies (cognitive fitness, medication dispensing and reminder, chronic disease management, exercise)
- Home safety and security (home monitoring, Personal emergency response, fall detection)
- Learning and contribution (social networking, education and learning, ancestry tracking)
Just as the content and product knowledge varies regularly within the other certifications described above, so too are the products and vendors who provide technology for aging in place. So given that technology is always changing, are several approaches to creating and managing certification for aging in place technology:
- Augment other certifications with a required technology component. If a CAPS interior designer goes into the home to design new counter heights and doorways, for example, could they also be trained to see if there is a wireless network in the home, a PC or other internet-accessible device, or a need for home monitoring or other sensor-based technology?
- Create a voluntary training and certification program for use across disciplines. These seems more plausible, since geriatric care managers and interior designers are both in the home under different circumstances and could each assess and make recommendations -- and provide referrals to tech implementors they have identified in their local area.
Any thoughts before diving down either of these approaches?