Assisting Living refers to supporting and empowering people living with a disability, chronic illness, frailty or cognitive decline, older people or those marginalized from the benefits of mainstream society, allowing them to benefit from the equitable application of technological, personal, community and societal initiatives. Assisting Living aims to enable people to live a full and independent life as valued participants of their community.
Assisting Learning refers to applying this ethos to removing barriers to accessing and benefiting from education - especially third level education.
With longer-living populations, there is a clear need to embrace the concept of “assistive”, where assistance is geared towards empowering people and enhancing their rights and choices. Whilst retaining ideas of promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative services and care, assistive technologies, assistive services and assistive independent living, will become perhaps the defining features of life over the next few decades. In recognition of this, the World Health Organisation has established the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE) programme to promote living in and through more inclusive communities. The Institute has strong connections with the WHO through the GATE programme.
'Assisting' reaches beyond the idea of assistive technology alone, embracing the person, their supporters and, where appropriate, their carers. It also embraces a human rights approach and the ethos of volunteering and community engagement.
We are committed to a systems approach in all areas of our work, which means understanding the interplay of different factors that influence the relationship between persons and their contexts, between people, and between technology and the person using that technology. These include, but are not limited to, local human and financial resources and social and cultural processes, through the nature of formal and informal service provision. Such configurations, of course, vary in scale and between contexts, but also (sometimes radically) within settings themselves.
We are committed to the full range of research methods and a cross-disciplinary approach in order to understand how people really think and behave with regard to their sense of wellbeing, as well as the ways that they seek out care/support, and, in turn, how appropriate technology helps them in this quest.
Our nationally and globally distinctive feature as an Institute is in developing independent and interdisciplinary research that focuses on social inclusion and participation and on empowering people through the use of technologies. By reflecting on the broader societal infrastructure required to make technology beneficial to people, it promotes human rights-based policies.
An Assistive Product is “any product (including devices, equipment, instruments, and software), either specially designed and produced or generally available, whose primary purpose is to maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence and thereby promote their wellbeing” (Khasnabis et al., 2015).).
Assistive Technology systems refer to “the development and application of organised knowledge, skills, procedures, and policies relevant to the provision, use, and assessment of assistive products” (Khasnabis et al., 2015).
Well-being is a positive sense of health and living, something that is both an individual and collective good. We look to science, broadly defined, to support well-being and to provide an appropriate evidence base to inform policy and practice, as well as to develop novel techniques, interventions and technologies to positively enhance life.