Carelink in a nutshell is an AAL project that has the aim of developing a cheap, robust, energy-efficient and suitable wearable tag that will help dementia patients and their carers solve the challenges associated with wandering, thereby improving the quality of life of patients, their families and minders.
The Carelink project was kicked off in early September) at Uninova in Lisboa. The Consortium consists of an interesting mix of first timers and seasoned EU Programme innovators and researchers. The small group of 6 partners is split between Research Groups (Uninova, TSSG,), not-for-profit (Akademie Berlingen) and Commercial Entities (U-Sentric, OpenSky Data, Creagy)
As a group, there is significant domain expertise ranging from Uninova’s work on the Biopattern project to U-Sentric’s multiple patient centric innovation contributions in areas impacting anaesthesiology, schizophrenia and care provider capabilities (links). OpenSky Data has designed and developed many health initiatives including Ireland’s Single Assessment Tool for Elder Care Planning in multiple settings. Creagy has been or is currently involved in a total of 4 AAL projects outside of Carelink, including the complementary DayGuide which supports people with dementia inside their home.
During the session, it quickly came clear that Carelink has a strong personal meaning to the participants and there is a high sense of a team that is individually vested in this project. Fernando Ferreira at Uninova talked about how recently a friend felt helpless when his Uncle wandered and was missing for 7 days. The story of Peggy Mangan which ended tragically, is front of mind in the minds of Ireland’s participants. Akademie Berlingen’s core mission as a non-profit organisation is to provide services and improve the quality of life for older citizens.
From the off, a user-centred approach to design is seen as crtical and u-sentic will lead the charge in this respect. Indeed, they referenced a quote which will reflect one of the core values of Carelink as the project moves forward;
“We spend a lot of time designing the bridge, but not enough time thinking about the people who are crossing it” – Dr Prabhjot Singh
Urs Baumeler from Creagy articulated a concern shared by the rest of the consortium. Previous projects have succeeded in developing something that advances the state of the art technically but not enough focus has been expended on achieving business impact. The solution must be relevant and useful for end users but the business engagement at a very early stage is also very important. The expertise and leadership of Creagy and u-sentric in market assessment, outlook and development will help to deliver strong outcomes in this area. Additionally, Uninova has achieved strong results in the innovative delivery of education and training platforms will play a critical role in ensuring uptake.
Overall, the project kick-off session was one of energy and passion. There is a shared sense of commitment and passion in pushing for strong outcomes through the combined efforts of the team.