This SBIR Phase I project will develop a web-based resource to support more informed decision-making about purchasing and using in-home assistive care products and services by seniors and family caregivers (mature adults). Mature adults want to stay in their homes, and increasingly, technology is being viewed as one way to support independence and safety. While there is information on technologies and products available on the Internet, valid, reliable and freely accessible (not associated with product sales) information is missing. Most product-related websites are designed to sell products, not to help the consumer find the right product, and know how to evaluate whether it is the most appropriate product for their need. Independent Home Life will provide easy-to-understand information about age-related changes that may also require the use of assistive care products that address these changes. Products on the site will be described in detail, with information on how to install (self or professional installation) and use the products effectively. Further, products will be triple evaluated, by senior environmental experts, by occupational therapists, and by mature adults. This evaluation will give mature adults greater confidence in the quality of the products they are considering purchasing. Beyond product information, the site will provide easily searchable links to other valid and reliable resources, including (but not limited to) local Better Business Bureau offices, Area Agency on Aging Offices, other non-profit and government-supported sites/programs/offices (i.e., state Tech-Act Web sites). We will seek to partner with organizations such as Angie's List or Service Magic Pros and the CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) program at the National Association of Home Builders that provide information on consumer-rated service providers. The site will incorporate Web 2.0 functionality, enabling user ratings and review as well as virtual room tours to demonstrate practical product use applications within a typical home setting, and social networking, encouraging ongoing sharing of experiences by consumers. The project will begin by seeking target market user-input to identify key features and classes of information desired by mature adults. Debutante will then use that information to develop a prototype of the website, focusing on products and services for bathrooms. Simultaneously, products will be acquired and evaluated by two teams of experts and by mature adults recruited to evaluate the products. Links to evaluated service provider options (in-home care providers and contractors) will also be developed. Once the prototype site is developed and populated, it will be evaluated by mature adults in both in-person focus groups and electronically. A final report will be prepared and the Phase II application and commercialization plan with be developed.
Mature adults want to stay in their homes, and increasingly, technology is being viewed as one way to support independence and safety. Independent Home Life will develop a web-based resource to support more informed decision making about purchasing and using in-home assistive care products and services.