Appendix A - Case Study - EN 17161 a Framework

Project overview


ALONE is a national organisation that supports and empowers older people to age happily and securely at home.

Statement on impact/change:

This standard allowed us to carefully consider user involvement in service design and delivery of future projects. This was informed by real and verifiable user needs as gathered in this Sláintecare project using the approach required in this standard.

This standard allowed us to consider how to extend the range of potential users and needs of our services in the project.

Most of our technology is decided upon based on the premise that there is interoperability using open source API’s and compatible assistive technologies which correspond with the requirements in this standard.

As we work to implement a Universal Design approach it has provided us with a baseline from which we can look to continuously improve on in the coming months and years.

Project needs statement - what the project was, and why it was decided to use the standard – what need is being addressed

ALONE received Sláintecare funding for the project, ‘ALONE BConnect: linking healthcare, social care and community care together using technology and services’. The project aims to identify and provide technology and services to support older people to manage their own health and wellbeing and live independently in their own homes for longer. The project also aims to improve the community’s capacity to meet the needs of older people in CHO 9 (health services area).

In the project, ALONE will provide technology and services to 50 older people. We expect many of the older people involved in this project may have a physical, sensory or cognitive impairment explained in I.S. EN 17161, thus this standard will be particularly helpful in relation to understanding user needs, capabilities, characteristics and context of use.

The standard will highlight how we can apply design guidance to improve our communications to older people and thus services.

We plan to assess the technology we have available within the project and evaluate its performance based on the approach in the standard and confirm who the technology might be suitable for and how well it performs in the context of it fulfilling the needs of the specified user.

Project Process

How the project was conducted – activities

CEUD held interactive and informative workshops to create understanding of the concept of the Universal Design for All approach documents.

Paired into groups (Tech working group, Comms working group) with some oversight from the lead in CEUD.

The team went back to CEUD with Annex C completed.

What particular aspects of the standard were used

Aspects that were referenced:

  • ISO/IEC Guide 71:2014
  • EN 17161:2019
  • Section 3
  • Section 7
  • Section 8
  • Annex B.3
  • Annex  B.4
  • Annex C.4
  • Annex C.5

How information was recorded

Created a document on the cloud that allowed all team members to contribute.

We already have a Quality Management System (“QMS”) in place so we record each version of all finalised procedures at ALONE. Any changes of procedures are recorded through this.  Having the QMS in place makes implementation of this standard a little easier for us than perhaps those that don’t.


Key learning from the project was that the physical and cognitive needs and capabilities of the older people changed rapidly during the course of the project which was attributed to the onset and progression of dementia. As a result, ALONE identified that the user needs and capabilities should be reviewed more regularly.

ALONE found/understand the need to review the accessibility of certain documentation and communication in relation to technology projects including this Sláintecare project, including information booklets, consent forms, and guides on using provided technologies to support independent living. 

ALONE reviews its policies and procedures in line with the ISO 9001:2015 Quality management standard, and this standard EN 17161 will be considered as part of the review process.

We strive to continuously improve in this area.  

ALONE found that it was important to ensure that the appropriate staff/roles were involved at the start of the project to understand and support the implementation and impact it would have across the business.

The application and understanding of these standards have reinforced the importance of accessibility throughout the project. 

Highlighted the need for evaluating specific technologies for specific user needs and characteristics.

As an organisation, we will continuously work to improve the accessibility of our services and technology provision, we will do this in line with EN 17161 when reviewing ISO standards.

Results statements – what was achieved as a result of implementation of the standard

Influenced the creation of a matrix used to identify technology that can support specific needs, capabilities and characteristics of potential users.

This better informed the usefulness of a suite of technologies for specified needs to support older people to live independently at home.

Highlighted the importance of accessibility in an end-to-end context, including the documentation, in person communication and gathering feedback from service users.

The importance of digital accessibility and communications has directly influenced the latter stages of our new website design.

The implementation of this standard informed the decision making process and design for all approach incorporated in the applications ALONE are developing as part of the Sláintecare project.

What’s next – future plans

We will be incorporating the standard into our ongoing revision of policies, procedures and communications. 

We would like to engage further with CEUD for their advisement in relation to ongoing guidance and support for all staff on the concept and overall principles of Universal Design.

We expect to implement the communications recommendations in future projects including: information booklets, consent forms, device hand-outs.

Summary quote

Implementing a new standard in an organisation can be a significant project but having identified the benefits of this standard for our Older People, implementing it has given us a structure and some tools to achieve the desired outcome - in our case, to be a leader in equal access to services to all.