Given the ongoing increase in life expectancy and the fast-growing population of older adults, the need arises for the development and adoption of technologies to support independent aging at home, in line with the aging in place policy and along with its implementation. The use of technologies such as computers, the Internet, smartphones, and smart appliances can support independent aging at home. These and other technologies are used to provide a variety of services for older adults, both telehealth services addressing health issues and other, non-medical telecare services, including telemonitoring activities of daily living (ADL) of older adults, remote daily care, and remote social activities. Telecare services thus support independent aging at home, providing round the clock ADL monitoring and enabling social engagement through remote social and leisure activities.
In 2020, the government of Greece set out to develop a national program for older adults and as part of the national program, it seeks to deploy telecare services, specifically community-based services. The University of Piraeus and the London School of Economics and Political Science, which assist the government of Greece in developing the national program for older adults, commissioned the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute to examine the telecare services in Israel.
The goals of this study were: (1) to identify and map the telecare services in Israel; (2) to identify the strategies used in Israel to promote the telecare services; (3) to identify challenges and barriers to the use of telecare services; (4) to present options for the large-scale deployment of telecare services in Greece, based on the Israeli experience.
The study was based on two sources of information: (1) semi-structured interviews with 22 experts on telecare services and developers of telecare technologies from Israel; (2) a review of websites of companies developing telecare technologies for older adults.
The study showed that several government ministries in Israel promote tenders and initiatives for the development of telecare technologies and their integration in existing services. At the same time, a number of local companies have developed technology-based services for older adults and are implementing the services in hundreds of households of older adults in Israel. However, it seems that the telecare field in Israel is still in the preliminary stages of development and integration and that a single leading model for the provision of telecare services that is effective and has value for all the stakeholders concerned: the government entity, the technology / service provider, and the user, has yet to be established. Each of the stakeholders concerned is faced with specific challenges that have to be taken into account along with other considerations in the development of the technology-based services. The major challenges facing the state are the need to overcome bureaucratic barriers (e.g., the formulation of tender documents) and to bridge the gaps between the different organizational cultures of the state and the technology companies. The main challenges facing the technology / service providers are unfamiliarity with the needs of older adults and finding a profitable business model. One of the main challenges facing older adults is a low level of digital literacy.
- The government has a key role in the initiation and funding of telecare services, and it can employ various means to promote the field. It is recommended that the challenges involved be considered in advance and that suitable mechanisms for coping with the challenges be developed.
- When developing technology-based services, the recurrent built-in failures inevitably associated with the integration of technology have to be taken into consideration.
- So far, no sustainable (effective) model has been developed defining the relationships between the three stakeholders concerned: the government, the technology / service provider, and the user. It is therefore recommended that efforts to integrate technology-based services for older adults be carried on and that the development of an optimal model for the provision of the services be thus promoted.
- One of the challenges facing the government, the technology / service providers, and the users is the lack of awareness of the potential value of telecare services for older adults. It is thus recommended that awareness of the issue and of the added value for each of the stakeholders concerned be raised.
Citing suggestion: Kermel Schiffman, I., Cohen, Y., Berg-Warman, A., & Resnizky, S. (2022). Telecare Services for Older Adults in Israel. RR-903-22. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. (Hebrew)