Five Tips to Reduce Assistive Technology Abandonment
Assistive technology (AT) can be a key component in supporting a person to achieve their goals and live their life to the fullest. However, studies have shown that 30% of AT is abandoned within one year of receiving the product. Apart from the significant cost implication of this, an abandoned piece of AT is in no way able to support a person achieve their goals. So, what can be done to reduce the likelihood of AT abandonment?
Following the below principles can help to prevent AT abandonment:
1. Place the person (and their regular supports) at the centre of the decision-making – ensuring the person can express what is important to them and what their priorities are will reduce the likelihood of the AT being abandoned and empower the person to be an active decision maker throughout the prescription process.
2. Assess in regular environments – being aware of all environments the person will be using the proposed AT solution, associated terrain/ functional requirements, and access in and around these environments will ensure the AT solution will be suitable for these situations. This will reduce the chance of the equipment being abandoned as a result of unsuitability.
3. Extended trials – facilitating an extended trial of the proposed AT solution will allow the person the opportunity to trial the equipment during regular routines and subsequently be able to provide feedback as to the suitability of the AT solution in supporting goal achievement.
4. Consider long-term needs – one of the reasons an AT solution may be abandoned is due to changing needs of the person. Best efforts to consider the longer-term needs of the person will assist in reducing the likelihood of future abandonment.
5. AT integration and follow up – education and training for the person and their supports to embed the AT solution into their routines will reduce the chance of the AT being abandoned in favour of previous ‘familiar’ equipment. Inadequate follow-up can reduce long-term usability and result in AT abandonment therefore ongoing support with maintenance, modifications or upskilling supports will promote longevity of use.
Global report on assistive technology. Geneva: World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2022. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Betsy Phillips M.S. & Hongxin Zhao Ph.D. (1993) Predictors of Assistive Technology Abandonment, Assistive Technology, 5:1, 36-45, DOI: 10.1080/10400435.1993.10132205
Abandonment of Assistive Technology. Fact Sheet. Motivation Australia, 2018.
About the author
Hannah is the Assistive Technology Clinical Excellence Lead at KEO Care. Hannah has been a physiotherapist for over ten years with experience in multiple settings across Melbourne and interstate. Hannah enjoys working in the community as she feel it’s where she can make the greatest positive impact on people’s lives. Hannah has a passion for all things assistive technology, with experience at both the prescriber and supplier level of equipment prescription. Hannah enjoys collaborating with people to embed successful assistive technology solutions to support them achieve their individual goals.