ELSA Lab for AI Solutions for Disability Care

Published on: 29 November 2022

There are various issues in disability care where AI could provide an ideal solution. On the one hand, it is about quality of life for people with disabilities and the quality of care they receive. On the other, disability care is also facing significant understaffing due to labour shortages. This ELSA Lab therefore consists of parties who investigate what is possible in those areas in practical situations.

What social challenges in AI are being worked on?

The ELSA Lab focuses on people with severe multiple disabilities and people with severe intellectual disability. This group of clients in particular needs personalised care. These are clients who are unable to communicate when they need care. Information from sensors and learning algorithms can help comprehend difficult-to-understand behaviour and in preventing behavioural and health problems. On top of that, disability care has been struggling with labour shortages for years. Using AI can play an important role in that regard as well.

What types of solutions are offered to the end user?

The ELSA Lab is going to investigate several possible routes to solutions. It starts with the ‘night care case’ for people with serious intellectual and multiple disabilities. These are people whose tension can manifest as aggression (both towards people and things) and self-harm. For that group, safety and care during the night are extra important. Are they awake at night for a long time? Are they restless? Are they wandering around? Are they shouting? They are actively monitored at night, for both their own well-being and safety and for that of the people in their surroundings. The night care technology that care organisations mostly use at the moment does not use AI. Monitoring is often still done by placing microphones in the bedrooms and listening in on hundreds of clients at once remotely. There is also a second generation of night care technology, using simple sensors that work on triggers. And there are also care organisations that work with smart sensors (third-generation care technology). The ELSA Lab focuses on the scenario in which an AI system combines data and can give notifications with advice about the action to take. It is expected that this fourth generation of night care technology will be a reality in five to ten years.

What AI methods or techniques are used in the research?

It starts with data from healthcare monitoring systems and night care data from care institutions. This is done in cooperation with the suppliers that provide the current technology. This gives the lab insight into the types of data (sound, camera images, sensors) that are already being used. What technology is used? And how often? Does that data show clear peak periods? What is the relationship between the signals and the actual ‘events’ where a care professional has to take action? It is mainly these types of questions that play a role in the context analysis in the first phase.

Are we collaborating with other sectors?

In this initial phase, the emphasis is genuinely on developing AI solutions specifically for disability care. Academy Het Dorp is the coordinator for this, under the guidance of Brigitte Boon, who is a professor of data and technology in disability care at Tranzo, Tilburg University. The consortium includes care institutions, developers and suppliers of care (including night care) technology, data scientists, professional associations and interest groups representing client groups and healthcare. The consortium is specifically assembled for each case.

What is the ultimate success this ELSA Lab can achieve?

Using AI to improve the night care process for people with serious and multiple disabilities, including intellectual. And more specifically: that algorithms for the night care process will be available by 2032 that are actually being used by three to five of the participating disability care institutions. The ultimate goal is for the new approach to be so successful that other long-term care institutions also want to use that AI technology and will do so on a large scale. This will permit development that will help improve the working method for the entire sector.

Awarded the NL AIC Label

The Netherlands AI Coalition has developed the NL AIC Label to underline its vision for the development and application of AI in the Netherlands. An NL AIC Label formally recognises an activity that is in line with the aims and strategic goals of the NL AIC and/or the quality of that activity. NL AIC would like to congratulate the ELSA Lab for AI Solutions for Disability Care.

More information?

The following people have been involved with its development:

If you would like more information about human centric AI and the ELSA concept, please visit this page.

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