By NAME, ASSA ABLOY Smart Living Expert
Smarter health and social care
Can smart door locks aid independent living for the elderly or disabled?
As populations in Western Europe age and medical science advances life expectancy, the way we deliver care to the elderly and/or disabled comes into sharper focus. Many of us prefer to live at home, independently, for as long as possible.
The delivery of in-home care is expensive. Assistive technology can also be expensive: personal navigation systems, advanced wheelchair capabilities, robotic arms and so on. Big decisions at national and local levels will need to be made everywhere. In the UK, any many other countries, social care has become a political “hot potato”.
But could some of the answers lie not just in politics and policy, but in smart technology?
Some partial solutions are already “baked in” to technologies we all use. Voice recognition software like Alexa and Siri is already improving the lives of the blind and visually impaired.
A pilot in Spain provides a glimpse of what’s possible. As part of a mission to promote universal accessibility, the ONCE Foundation collaborated with home automation manufacturers to create an intelligent, accessible home adapted to people with diverse needs. An Elea-Open smart home system integrated the home’s multiple smart devices, which were controlled via encrypted Bluetooth and EnOcean® connections.
This “accessible home of the future” tackled one of the biggest obstacles to independent living: the front door. An ENTR® smart door lock automates the entrance, so it is no longer an obstacle for people with disabilities. It enables a resident to open their door without exerting any force or using fine motor skills to manipulate a key. Residents can open or close the door from anywhere using a smartphone, tablet or remote controller. It closes automatically behind them, too.
With an integrated solution like Elea-Open, it’s also easy for any authorised user to check door status anytime and from anywhere, or to configure an incident alert.
Smart door locks like the ENTR® also enable easier in-home care delivery. You can give others access to your home without being disturbed — potentially a major factor if emergency care staff, workers or visitors need access while you are asleep or hurt. With scheduled entry functionality, carers or cleaners can enter the house without a key, but only at pre-approved times.
One recent UK report claims smart home technologies could save the country “billions” in healthcare expenditure. The value of an accessible smart home for those who wish to keep living independently could be measured in more than just euros, pounds and dollars.