Training homecare personnel in advanced homecare: The UbiLearn mobile application

Healthcare tasks are increasingly sourced out of the doctor’s office and into our homes and neighborhoods. Homecare is the new healthcare. But do homecare personnel always know what they are doing? We created UbiLearn to show how we can use mobile apps to train homecare personnel and keep them trained on the go.

The members of the project team who built UbiLearn. Front row from left: Espen Hellerud, Kyrre Laugerud Moe. Back row from left: Kenneth Pettersen Lund, Vegar Lerpold, Ragnhild Seim. Missing from photo: Ingeborg Ødegård Oftedal.

New demographics and new types of public health challenges are changing our needs for competences and skills. The need for homecare personnel with higher competences is prevalent. Although most universities require a master’s degree or a PhD from their employees, the same cannot yet be said about municipalities. At the same time municipalities are being assigned an increasing array of advanced healthcare tasks related to different target groups including seniors with comorbidities.

Together with a group from Course IT2901 at NTNU we designed and prototyped a simple mobile app to demonstrate how we can integrate learning and training into everyday tasks of homecare personnel performing home visits. We focused on seniors, fall risk assessment and fall prevention as an example. The app, called UbiLearn, is designed in form of a competitive game where you can see your own progress compared to that of your colleagues. UbiLearn allows a user to learn from the comfort of a sofa, or to learn in the field when performing a task. We chose to go for this two-part learning experience after having talked to some experts in learning theories. In addition, UbiLearn has a handbook in fall prevention that the user can browse and read. An evaluation of UbiLearn is still pending.

UbiLearn home visit game: A user visiting a house where a senior called Jørgen lives.

UbiLearn home visit game: A user visiting a house where a senior called Jørgen lives.

Some of the characteristics of UbiLearn:

  • Off-site learning: You learn based on cases from real world presented in form of home visits already familiar to homecare personnel in Norway. The user drives from house to house, is presented with cases in each house, and has to perform a quiz that is adapted to the specific case (see the figure to the right).
  • On-site learning: On each home visit, the user can activate UbiLearn, characterize the senior being visited, and get tips on what activities are useful for a senior with these characteristics. Activities include training and taking specific fall risk assessment tests.
  • Handbook on fall prevention: We used material from the web site of the EU-funded ProFounND to build a handbook with information about fall prevention. This information is presented in text, images and videos and is divided into topics. It is available offline and can be browsed and read at any time.

UbiLearn was developed in an iterative process involving a number of experts who gave us feedback. We did not involve homecare personnel, which is a weakness of the process. UbiLearn is mainly developed as a proof-of-concept to allow us to learn about the subject and to assess training material available in the field of fall prevention. Future versions will need to undergo a more rigorous co-design and evaluation process.

Special thanks to the group members, and to Prof. Monica Divitini of IT2901. We also thank Profs. Jorunn Helbostad and Randi Granbo of NTNU for participating in our expert group for testing and providing feedback during the development of UbiLearn.

The report from the project is available from the top menu under Documentation, Reports. Look for Oftedal et al. The code for UbiLarn can be downloaded from github under Apache 2.0. More screenshots from UbiLearn are available on Flickr.

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