Using Assistive Technologies to Increase Social Interaction of Residents with Limited Mobility in a Care Environment

Long term residents suffering from limited mobility living within communities or institutions such as homes for the elderly, specialised hospitals and care facilities are often subject to lack of social interactions due to their physical state [1]. Such residents often depend on members of staff, family members, guardians and/or other physically able residents to move location and/or interact with other residents. However these people are not always available and this leaves the immobile residents feeling isolated from the rest of the community.

This project aimed at reducing social isolation through a social network with a dedicated multimodal user interface and the use of assistive technologies [2]. The chosen interfaces were a voice interface and a touchscreen interface designed to be user friendly specifically to such residents. The core features of the system aim to assist residents in communicating socially as well as to help set up and manage meetings between each other.

The secondary function of the system is to collect data in the background related to the use of the system. This data is primarily concerned with the interactions occurring as a result of the system. This allows members of staff of the institute in question and guardians of the residents to monitor interaction rates and query this data. Several other functionalities to assist staff members have also been included.

A web application along with assistive technologies were used to implement the system. Google APIs played key roles in implementing important functionality. The system was designed to be easily integrated with the functionality of an automated transport mechanism which would allow a resident with limited mobility to independently travel around the institution.

Figure 1. System Overview


[1]         M. R. L. Roy F Baumeister, “The Need to Belong,” Psychological Bulletin, vol. 117, no. 3, pp. 497-529, 1995.

[2]         P. J. S. Yi-Ru Regina Chen, “The Effect of Information Communication Technology Interventions on Reducing Social Isolation in the Elderly: A Systematic Review,” Journal of medical Internet research, vol. 18, no. 1, p. e18, 2016.

Student: Michael Hampton
Supervisor: Dr. Michel Camilleri
Co-Supervisor: Dr. Peter Albert Xuereb
Course: B.Sc. IT (Hons.) Software Development