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Why has the project been set up?

Utilising telecommunications, with a view to supporting provision of social and health care services in the community, is not a new development in itself. Telecare and telehealth services have for instance been around for quite some time in many countries. Also, the quest for more integrated care is not new. When it comes to supporting older people living in the community, today's reality is however still characterised by fragmentation and bureaucracy in current service provision. This has resulted in disjointed and patchy medical care and social support.

The vast potential that innovative ICT solutions do generally hold for supporting older people in living independently has therefore remained largely unexploited, with negative impacts on the quality of life of those who are in need of support. At the same time, this situation has negative impacts on the economic sustainability of welfare and healthcare systems. It is widely acknowledged that models of formal support provision for the elderly population need to change to reflect budgetary pressures and demographic changes, including different ways of accessing formal carers and co-ordination of informal care. This creates obvious needs for integrated means of communication and the supporting technology. It also highlights the potential of family members and home technology in performing a role within the supporting network.

More recently, more possibilities for responding to these needs have emerged. In particular, the appropriate application of advanced ICT can make a major contribution to this goal.