Better care at home with smart technology
It seems that every week sees the launch of a much-hyped new device which is going to ‘transform the future of home-based care’. Unfortunately, these devices can be expensive, difficult to use and appear to be designed to save money by reducing the need for visits rather than improving quality of care.
What if there was a way of using technology to enhance the human touch, rather than replacing it? If technology could enable carers and families to spend time with elderly and vulnerable people rather than substituting visits with remote monitoring?
Well now there is. Home Instead Senior Care in Rugby has been working closely with a leading IT company, Cascade3d, to use the very latest smart-home technology to enhance the care package they offer to elderly clients.
Sarah Slater, Managing Director Home Instead Rugby, explained that “our clients need to feel safe, warm, healthy and happy in their homes. We offer a wide choice of care and support services for both our clients and their caregivers. It is not easy for families to be available day and night, especially with busy working lives, that’s why we are here to help.”
The Cascade Connected Care system enables people to live at home independently and allows caregivers to support the client with companionship as well as high quality care. Carers can tailor the support they offer much more precisely.
“We use the system to help keep clients safe and well when we aren’t there. It can alert us if our client’s routine is out of kilter, such as reduced bathroom, fridge and kettle use in the mornings or being up in the night. This helps us sensitively check how they are feeling and provide proactive support,” she added.
The Cascade Connected Care system is simple. A number of small, discreet sensors are set up around the home. They collect information based on movement and changes to the environment, whether someone is moving around, for example, or if the fridge has been opened and the kettle switched on. The system can be precisely tailored to meet the different needs of individual clients.
Cascade3d’s CEO, Gerry Hodgson, who developed the system, commented that “my own father needs support to live independently at home and is adamant that he doesn’t want to move into a residential home. I’ve been working with data and technology for the last 30 years and knew that there had to be a way to keep him safe and supported 24/7 without feeling that he was being looked after by a machine – in fact he was very clear that he didn’t want anything installed that would mean the family visiting or calling less frequently.”
The alert services available from the Connected Care platform include medication reminders where a sensor sends SMS messages to family or carers, and ‘up and about’ reassurance via bathroom and kitchen motion sensors. The system can help reduce the risk and give early warning of potential UTIs and DVT - a high number of bathroom visits could indicate an infection or gastric complaint, and chair and motion sensors send alerts if there are long periods of inactivity which is particularly important for those at risk of DVT.
“As well as monitoring physical wellbeing the system can also be used to support mental health,” explained Gerry. “Wandering about the house or watching TV late into the night instead of going to bed is an incredibly important insight when supporting people with learning disabilities, anxiety or disorientation. We can see any changes to patterns of food and drink preparation, even room light levels can be monitored to indicate if curtains are being left closed during the day. A decline in activity levels or excursions from the house could also indicate something might not be right. In my Dad’s case, these insights helped us tailor the most appropriate times for the care team from Home Instead to visit.”
The information is used to create an overall picture of each client’s wellbeing which means that the care team and the family can have an appropriate conversation about what might be happening and ensure they are providing the best possible care and support.
Sarah summed up the benefits: “It’s all about flexibility, choice and overall wellbeing. We’re using new technologies to support independent living so that carers and families can focus on the things that the sensors can’t do – warmth, companionship and loving care.”
To find out more please visit: www.cascade3d.com/connected-care