Coast to Coast Seminar Series: "Aging in a technological world or technology in an aging world?"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. Judith Sixsmith and Dr. Scott Lear
Dr. Sixsmith is a Professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Northhampton and Dr. Lear is a Professor in the Faculty Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University


Dr. Sixsmith will talk about the the Smart Distress Monitor (SDM) project. The aim of this project is to develop an ambient passive real time infra-red technology to detect the activity/inactivity of older people in their home in order to raise alerts concerning developing health care needs. Challenging issues experienced within the project concerned the lack of connectedness between technological, academic and user-based domains of expertise, language and problem-focus. User requirements revealed in interviews, focus groups and workshops informed the system design indicating that a successful system should be controllable, reliable, aesthetically pleasing, reduce fear and enhance security. Laboratory and in home tests indicated that the system improved people’s sense of safety and security, could promote the home as a restorative environment and become constructive of personal and social identities. In general, the research indicates that the SDM can contribute to a broader system of technology aids which can help people live longer within their own homes if it is designed with older people rather than for them.

Dr. Lear will focus on the Canadian experience. Approximately 2 in 5 Canadian adults have a chronic disease and this number nearly doubles in people over 65 years. With the ageing population and the coincident increases in chronic disease, there have been numerous calls for the 'transformation of health care' as our current model is likely to be unsustainable in the future. The use of technology in health care has been touted as a necessity in this transformation. However, despite the ubiquitous nature of a variety of low cost technologies (home computers/Internet, mobile phones, plain old telephone), the uptake into mainstream health care has been slow. The British Columbia Alliance on Telehealth Policy and Research ( has been working on a number models of care using low cost technology to support patient self-management and transitions of care. These current and proposed models have been designed to align with current health care practices and have the promise of ready uptake

About the Speaker

Dr. Lear is a Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and the inaugural Pfizer/Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul's Hospital. Dr. Lear is also the Director of Community Health Solutions ( CHS engages with community partners to learn, develop, and apply novel and sustainable approaches, programs, and policies to enhance chronic disease prevention and management to support healthy individuals and communities. Under the CHS, Dr. Lear’s research spans the breadth of prevention of chronic diseases at a population level to the management of chronic diseases at an individual level. He also leads the British Columbia Alliance for Telehealth Policy and Research (, a team of university-based researchers and health authority decision-makers to develop, evaluate and implement Internet-based solutions for chronic disease management. To date, a 'virtual' cardiac rehabilitation program and a 'virtual' heart failure clinic have been successfully evaluated and the team is currently evaluating solutions for patients with multiple chronic diseases. Together this research will identify solutions that can be readily implemented into practice for the management of chronic diseases.

Dr. Sixsmith is a Professor in the School of Public Policy. She has been actively involved in research since 1984. She has directed several research projects including those funded by the European Commission, the British Broadcasting Corporation and the UK Health Development Agency. Her research experience is broadly based in social care and health policy in which she specialized in qualitative methodologies using multi-methods approaches. In particular an interest in the relationship between health, identity and home has featured in several of the projects. Moreover, a commitment to understanding the social-psychological and cultural context of everyday life has culminated in several projects which explore concepts of community and family life. More recently, Judith's work has developed in terms of revealing the meaning of age and gender in the context of health and social care, particularly concerning successful ageing among older people, men and masculinities and issues of participation and empowerment. Judith is also Professor of Adult Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University. In November 2011, she became Professor of Public Health Improvement and Implementation in the School of Health at the University of Northampton.