Am I allowed to use Domotics or home automation to protect my loved one?
Domotics are increasingly being used in the care of people with dementia. These are techniques that are used, for example, to monitor via sensors or camera surveillance whether someone is still in bed or moving around the room. But does the use of home automation take enough account of the privacy of the person with dementia?
Domotics can be very useful. Both at home, as your loved one lives independently, and in the nursing home. For example if your loved one tends to wander through the house at night or easily falls out of bed. It can also help healthcare professionals to have more supervision of the ward in a nursing home. But would I like to be observed day and night in my own way through modern techniques? Is someone with dementia not entitled to privacy?
An argument for home automation in dementia is that it is about vulnerable people and they should therefore be closely monitored. But this argument also applies the other way around. It is because people with dementia are already vulnerable, it is important to protect their privacy.
Living safely at home longer with home automation
At the same time, home automation or domotics can help your loved one to live by themselves at home longer. For example, if you know through a sensor whether your loved one left her home independently or has not fallen out of bed. That way you can protect the safety at home for a longer time. This means that someone can stay in her own house for longer due to home automation. A move to a nursing home or other care taking options can be postponed.
The question remains: does that outweigh the violation of the privacy of someone with dementia?
Of course, that question is best answered by your loved one him or herself. Does she want home automation to be used? It becomes more difficult if your loved one can no longer properly decide for him or herself. For example, because she no longer understands the information properly or is unable to properly assess the situation.
Choose the least invasive option
Do you choose to violate privacy with domotics to protect the safety of your loved one? Then it is important to ensure that the solution is the least invasive option. The solution must be in proportion to the goal that you want to achieve with it. And be suitable for that. These are called the principles of subsidiarity (least invasive option), proportionality (correct relationship to the goal) and efficiency (suitable for the goal to be achieved).
In concrete terms, it means that if possible, you use other things that are less harmful to privacy. For example, you can think of a safer bed, so you have less to monitor whether the person with dementia has fallen out of bed. In addition, you do not, for example, have to hang cameras in the house to monitor whether someone has fallen out of bed, if you can also measure this with a simple sensor. Finally, it means that the sensor must also monitor what it is intended for. If you want to monitor if your loved one does not fall out of bed, the sensor must register this. And don’t go off when your loved one leaves the house.
Can your loved one no longer properly decide on the impact of home automation? Only do it if it is the least invasive solution, has the right relationship to the goal and is suitable for that purpose.