CanAssist Boosts Independence for Seniors, People with Disabilities / CanAssist accroit l’autonomie des personnes âgées et de celles ayant un handicap

By Dale Anderson (ResearchImpact, University of Victoria)

CanAssist, a university-based organization dedicated to developing and delivering technologies, programs and services that improve the quality of life of those with special needs, and just received $3.5 million to continue its work—a shining example of knowledge mobilization in action at UVic.

CanAssist est une organisation liée à UVic dont le mandat est de développer et de fournir des technologies, des programmes et des services améliorant la qualité de vie de ceux qui ont des besoins spéciaux. Elle vient tout juste de recevoir 3,5 millions de dollars afin de poursuivre ses activités – un exemple éclatant de mobilisation des connaissances à UVic.

CanAssist is a university-based organization dedicated to developing and delivering technologies, programs and services that improve the quality of life of those with special needs. It is a shining example of knowledge mobilization in action, and has just received funding to continue its innovative KMb work.

Recently, BC Premier Christy Clark announced $3.5 million for the University of Victoria to support an innovative project by CanAssist that will help seniors and people with disabilities remain as independent as possible while still living at home. Premier Clark had the opportunity to test CanConnect, an online tool that is helping seniors connect with care providers and children with special needs in remote communities connect with family and friends. CanConnect is a simple and user-friendly enhancement of Skype that allows people who are normally unable to use computers to make free telephone calls and have face-to-face chats in real time over the Internet.

By 2031, almost a quarter of B.C.’s population will be over 65 and the number of individuals with disabilities or who face serious barriers to employment and inclusion is expected to increase in the next 20 years. It is estimated that thousands more families in B.C. will benefit from today’s announcement.

Most of the $3.5 million will support an innovative partnership between CanAssist at the University of Victoria, Tyze Personal Networks and the PLAN Institute for Caring Citizenship. These partners will combine their expertise to create Connect for Care, new online tools that will help connect clients with their families, caregivers and health care providers. The remaining $500,000 will support CanFITT, a partnership between CanAssist and the Vancouver Island Health Authority to prototype the use of customized technologies to improve the quality of life for clients receiving services through the Choice in Supports for Independent Living program.

CanAssist has helped hundreds of families in B.C. since it was established in 1999. Over 4,500 students, 200 university faculty and more than 400 volunteers have participated in CanAssist, including retired physicians, machinists, seamstresses and engineers.

“CanAssist is a great example of a faculty member’s initiative that has grown to make UVic a national leader in the development of innovative technologies for people with disabilities,” said University of Victoria President David Turpin. “With this generous support from the B.C. government, CanAssist and its community partners will continue to create practical and empowering tools to help special needs individuals and their families overcome the challenges they face.”

Visit the CanAssist website for more information.

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