Where ergonomics meets geriatrics: the connection between comprehensive geriatric assessment and design for ageing
KeywordsAgeing Ergonomics Human factors Comprehensive geriatric assessment Capability consideration Technology
Ageing is a multidimensional process of change in the physical, mental, and social domains, leading to functional decline.
Comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) is the core technology for assessing older complex patients, and is defined as a multidimensional, multidisciplinary process which identifies medical, social and functional needs, and the development of an integrated care plan to meet those needs [1, 2]. The purpose of CGA is to identify treatable diseases, improve diagnostic accuracy, optimize medical treatment, improve medical outcomes, optimize living location, minimize unnecessary service use, and arrange long-term case management.
Ageing ergonomics is design driven and studies the age-related changes in physical, cognitive and organizational capabilities, with a focus on studying and reinforcing the remaining capabilities of older persons.
Hallmarks of and similarities between CGA and ergonomics in design
Design for Ageing is closely related to ageing ergonomics and applies a user-centred approach. It aims to support the older adults in their remaining capabilities and compensate for the limitations which they experience in daily life by means of products and services. To develop useful products and services for older adults, their needs, preferences and desires for technology in their lives should be identified and they should be involved in the design process . The focus areas of Design for Ageing should be the so-called geriatric giants, the traditional challenges of ageing such as design for falls prevention, design for dementia care, design for integrated as opposed to fragmented care . The shifting healthcare delivery from the hospital to home has the potential to deliver more personalised care to older adults which makes a user-centred design approach even more important. Tackling these challenges in a ‘’home-based healthcare setting’’ where the quality of professional care is integrated with the social care will be one of the main topics of the near future.
Considering the principles of geriatric medicine and ageing ergonomics (HF), remarkable similarities can be found between the two disciplines. The fact that both disciplines apply the same multidisciplinary approach to ageing and ageing individuals opens a broad perspective for successful interventions. These interventions can only be successful by following a user-centred design approach as a bridge between the two disciplines. In the White Paper Human Factors for Health and Social Care, the authors describe how human factors and ergonomics can bring depth and clarity of understanding to health and social care issues . In this regard, ergonomics (HF) has a critical and fundamental part to play in patient safety by providing methods and approaches which address known issues of integration, impact and sustainability of change .
The European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Health has recently published their 2020 Business Plan Calls and one of the focus areas is ‘Bringing Care Home’ . The aim is to deliver optimal home-based healthcare to older citizens, and consequent financial benefits to society, by designing and demonstrating innovation in home care services and systems. These kind of challenges can only be addressed by integrating geriatric medicine and ageing ergonomics (HF) by following a human-centred design approach.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
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