Only nine weeks to go until the EU FrailSafe final event in Brussels, 3 April 2019. From now on you will be able to get to know one of our partners every week and learn more about their expertise and involvement.
Today we are allowed to introduce you to our lovely and very committed Cypriot team and their activities within the FrailSafe project. You do not want to miss that read! Check it out!
1. Materia Group in a few words
Materia Group – AgeCare (Cyprus) Ltd is a private sector social enterprise in Cyprus aiming to improve the quality of life of older people through the continuous development and provision of a wide range of care, nursing and rehabilitation services. Services include two 24-hour nursing, rehabilitation and long-term care units in Nicosia (the capital of Cyprus), home care, day care services, caregiver training courses, cognitive enhancement program, memory centre, psycho-social support, and physiotherapy centers for residents and outpatients.
Materia is considered the main private sector provider of holistic services to the elderly on the island. Management and operations team is based on a multi-disciplinary approach, aiming at best possible services for end users and their families.
2. What is your role in the EU FrailSafe project?
Materia Group participates in the EU funded project FrailSafe as an end user organization and, in this context, undertakes various tasks.
In the beginning of the project, we contributed to the identification of user-requirements by collecting data from an extensive number of stakeholders (healthcare professionals, older people and their relatives or informal caregivers), in order to assist the technical team to develop the system according to the needs of all target groups.
As an end user organization, Materia Group also participated in the testing of the developing system by identifying and recruiting eligible participants, performing pilot trials and providing feedback to the technical team to adjust the product accordingly.
Furthermore, Materia Group undertook the task of organizing and implementing the FrailSafe system evaluation, in order to assess various aspects of the final system, such as its usability, user-satisfaction and user-friendliness, as well as, the validity of results and compliance with ethics and other preset reliability standards. Finally, Materia Group has also participated in dissemination activities to promote the project and its results, to the scientific community and general public.
3. From your perspective – what makes EU FrailSafe innovative?
Frailty is a medical condition which poses great challenges for healthcare professionals. Although, the term “frailty” is very commonly used among medical professionals, the definition of its clinical manifestations and symptoms have concentrated relative consensus only during the last 10 years.
Additionally, due to the fact that frailty affects various health domains in a slowly progressive course, it is very difficult to detect its symptoms early on. As a consequence, older adults and caregivers are not familiar with the condition and do not recognize the deterioration. Also, healthcare professionals do not have robust and valid tools to ensure the early detection or methods to effectively manage the condition.
Considering the aforementioned issues, all studies attempting to address frailty can significantly contribute to the existing research body. More specifically, FrailSafe project is innovative in many ways. To begin with, this study created an effective, holistic paradigm to approach frailty by measuring numerous and multi-faceted parameters, such as nutritional, cognitive, medical, physical and more, in real-time.
Secondly, it proposes a non-invasive solution, combining traditional methods and cutting-edge technology, which the older adult can easily include in their everyday routines. This fact, practically, means engaging the older adults in less cumbersome and tedious and more enjoyable and efficient ways to monitor their health. They just continue performing their everyday activities while their health data are being recorded and assessed. Finally, the system is user-friendly, meaning that almost everyone can get accustomed to it and use it.
4. The project is coming to an end – do you have some preliminary findings to share?
In the beginning of the project, we were wondering if the older users would accept and adhere to such a high-end technological solution. Older adults, especially in Cyprus, are hesitant towards technology. However, during the three years of the pilot trials, the vast majority of them accepted the devices and incorporated them easily into their routines.
The same applied for people with frailty or people who had never used a technological device in the past or had a low educational background. In fact, many people were eager to learn more about the system or other technological solutions available. This fact was a pleasant surprise for our research team, as we expected more resistance from them, especially considering that during most of the project’s duration, the system was under development and had some faults.
In accordance to above points, preliminary interviews with our older participants using the final system, show that they like the FrailSafe system because it allows them to monitor their own health with minimal help from their relatives. They want to stay independent for as long as possible and thus, the possibility to increase their autonomy is an intrinsic motivation for them.
Similarly, from the caregivers’ point of view, the FrailSafe system provides a variety of measurable parameters to assess their patients’ health and, also, alerts to address any problems early on. This could make their work very effective and cost-effective. Finally, commercial stakeholders are expressing interest in the system and its potential uses.
In conclusion, preliminary data shows that the FrailSafe is an innovative solution for frailty detection, prevention and management and seems promising for many target groups.