People who are ill (physically or mentally), or who are frail, may find it difficult to meet their everyday personal and social needs at home. Healthcare providers are trying to find ways to support more people at home, but finding home care workers and the money to fund this help is challenging. Advances in technology have created new devices to help support people.
New devices are already starting to be used, such as mobile phones tailored to health care, or electronic sensors that sound alarms in emergency situations. Another new technology is sensors. Sensors can be placed in everyday appliances in the home, like the fridge, cooker or the door, and can send information to healthcare providers. Providers can find out how people are doing in their homes and then make decisions about their care, such as how often to visit the home. Homes with these technologies are called 'smart homes'.
As with many new technologies, smart home technologies are often used without first testing if they are effective. This review aimed to determine what effect any type of smart home technologies have on people. The review produced a significant volume of literature on the use of smart technologies within health care, but there were no studies testing their effectiveness. The effects of smart technologies to support people in their homes are not known. Better quality research is needed.