The average life expectancy of the people in the euro zone lies at 82 years – and it is increasing. At European level the demographic change is the furthest advanced in Germany: Here, every fourth person belongs to the generation 60plus. Improved supply structures for elderly people are of course a topic for logistics that has for years accepted its responsibility for socially relevant topics. Thomas Bredehorn of Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML gives insights into exciting research projects.
The older the people are, the less mobile they are. Shopping trips and procurement are a burden for them. Yet, also the supply with goods can be full of pitfalls. Classic delivery services are not adjusted to the specific requirements of elderly people. Because: Seniors do not always react to the first ringing, do not open the door as fast as young people – and courier services do rarely have the time to wait. At the same time, there is a lack of suitable barrier-free platforms on which seniors can order products of the daily life at all. Not least in the area of goods and services in health care there are specific requirements. Admittedly, infrastructures are set up here that offer at least a basis for the delivery. Supplying elderly people depends – as usual in logistics – on having the right resources at the right place at the right time. It has to be taken into consideration that traffic congestion will particularly rise in conurbations. Today, traffic reducing measures have to be mandatory part of innovative logistics concepts. When developing new structures in logistics and information logistics the high-tech industry logistics has for a long time relied on computer-assisted.
For the project "Homecare Services“ in the EffizienzCluster LogistikRuhr for example, the biggest research and innovation project of logistics in Europe, Fraunhofer IML together with partners set up a shopping mall for health care products that focusses on the requirements of elderly people. That already starts with entering the profile: Seniors can for example indicate their mobility impairments or the names of their neighbours who are allowed to accept deliveries – all parameters to improve the quality of delivery as result. In the background of the platform is a so-called "control centre“: Here, the suppliers organise and coordinate the delivery. A pharmacy can for example make use of a mobile nursing service that is already on its way in the neighbourhood. The platform started as a pilot in Dortmund (approx. 580,000 inhabitants) in the Ruhr district. The system worked well but could not be operated economically with the participating local partners. One of the reasons: Consumers are not (yet) prepared to pay in addition for the delivery. For other bigger players, for example health insurances, such a platform remains interesting.
One of the most recent projects for the supply of elderly people is launched again in the vicinity. So-called carers of the quarter shall support the discharge planning of hospitals in a way that elderly people can return to their own flat more quickly after they stayed in hospital. They take care of the fact that the flat will be equipped with a nursing bed or other medical appliances. The project is under the motto of neighbourly help and also aims at including young people – another evidence how logistics meets the requirements of the societal change today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dipl.-Kfm. Thomas Bredehorn is Deputy Head of Department Health Care Logistics at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML. He managed the research project Homecare Services (2013-2014) in EffizienzCluster LogistikRuhr.
MORE ABOUT THE TOPIC
• New logistic supply structures that are established in the area of health care have to consider the basic legal conditions that apply to medical and health products. That also includes the EU guideline "Good Distribution Practice (GDP) for Pharmaceutical Products“ of 2013 that regulates for example the appropriate transport of health products like wheeled walkers. The logistics service provider has to meet the respective requirements with transports and storage, drivers for example have to have the allowance to advice on medical products (only needed in Germany and Austria according to Medical Devices Law).
• You will find an overview of the research project Homecare Services with the main results here. If you are interested in the final report of the project, please, contact Thomas Bredehorn.