How would technology help the world

Improve care through interactive technologies

Ensuring that people are cared for is one of the greatest challenges for our society. Several million people in Germany depend on care every day. And the number of people in need of care continues to rise. This brings new challenges to the care sector. This applies equally to acute hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, inpatient and outpatient care for the elderly, as well as care in one's own home. The most important part of good care is the respect for the dignity of every single person, their individual possibilities and self-determination and thus the strengthening of the quality of life.

Interactive technologies can make an important contribution to good care by providing informal and professional relief to caregivers physically and mentally in everyday life and by sustainably improving the quality of work in the care professions. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) therefore promotes the development and research of care innovations. Technology should not replace the caregivers, but rather accompany and support where there is stress and make everyday life easier. The focus is not only on professional carers, but on the entire network of worries. Caring relatives such as family, neighbors or friends also play an important role here.

Future of Nursing Cluster: Putting Nursing Innovations into Practice

Sensor technology, robotics and virtual reality are increasingly finding their way into our modern everyday life. Many innovative technological developments have already been promoted in the field of care. The next step is to carry these innovations across the board and make them available to those affected and carers. The use of new technologies in nursing practice can only be successfully tested and introduced together with people in need of care and their relatives as well as the nursing staff in the nursing services, nursing facilities and clinics. The BMBF therefore started the “Future of Care” cluster in 2017. In the cluster, social and technical innovations in nursing are brought together: Research, industry and nursing practice work together on new products that can make everyday nursing in Germany easier and better. As the first component of the nursing cluster, a nursing innovation center (PIZ) in Oldenburg, which is so far unique in Germany, started work in June 2017. Here engineers research new technologies together with nursing scientists. Since the beginning of 2018, there have also been nursing practice centers (PPZ) in Berlin, Freiburg, Hanover and Nuremberg, where new nursing technologies are tested in everyday nursing. The four centers examine the practicability of various new technologies in clinical, inpatient and outpatient care areas. The nursing practice centers also impart their know-how in nursing education and training and thus secure the innovative strength of the industry. The BMBF will provide a total of 20 million euros nationwide for this until 2022.

Create space for care

With the help of interactive care technologies, care professionals and caregiving relatives are relieved at home. By regaining independence and self-determination, the quality of life of people in need of care improves. However, this only works if the technology takes into account the individual requirements and specific needs of individuals in everyday care. Only if care technologies are classified as safe, helpful and trustworthy can they be accepted and used in everyday care.

Technical innovation must therefore also go hand in hand with social innovations, i.e. new models for society and solutions in the form of products, services, modes of action or agreements for our common life. In view of the steadily increasing number of people in need of care with a simultaneous lack of care (specialist) personnel, it is also important in the future to create and secure the time and personal room for maneuver for care and to counteract an overload of all carers - in the facilities and in the private environment . In addition to providing relief and advice, interactive technologies can offer valuable support. This includes assistance systems as well as smart digital applications such as data glasses. In the research and development of technologies, interdisciplinary research teams work to ensure that the applications follow ethical, legal and social principles.

Robotic systems in care

In April 2020, the German Ethics Council published a statement on the subject of “Robotics for good care”. In it, he weighs up the opportunities and risks of using robots in care and comes to the conclusion: Robotics has the potential to improve the quality of life of those in need of care and can help caregivers in their daily work. Just like the German Ethics Council, the BMBF is of the opinion that psychosocial, societal and ethical aspects in the development of robotic systems for maintenance require special attention. That is why the BMBF has been funding ten joint projects since 2020 that research the use of robotics in nursing practice. The projects follow the approach of integrated research, which means that they include ethical, legal and social aspects from the start. In doing so, they are closely oriented towards the needs of the target groups involved in the research. The research alliances are accompanied by the “BeBeRobot” project, which has played a role that is so far unique internationally: It develops criteria for evaluating the use of robotics in nursing and thus makes an important contribution to the professional strengthening of nursing sciences and the practical use of robots in of care.

"Care innovations 2030"

The Care Innovations 2030 initiative makes a contribution to ensuring needs-based, high-quality care. Research into the use of care technologies is intended to improve the quality of work and life of professional and informal carers and people in need of care. The focus is on the areas of qualification, work and new care offers, e.g. B. over spatial distances. Care innovations combine social, organizational and technical innovations. They are part of a comprehensive change process in the care system. Instead of sticking them to conventional arrangements, it is important to design the transformation of structures, processes and service offerings. To support sustainable care arrangements, care innovations should be based on a convincing evidence base and contribute to achieving the desired results for family carers, professional carers and those in need of care. The central principles of the initiative are the participation and codecision of all those involved.