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Infrared technology changes disability care

Health

INFRARED movement detectors are helping carers monitor the movement of aged and disabled residents, saving care facilities millions of dollars in labour costs in an industry first.

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When disability care facility Minda Incorporated redeveloped their facilities to include independent housing in South Australia, it gave their residents greater choices about the level of care they required.

It also posed unique challenges to how their staff would monitor the needs of their residents on a daily basis.

“It might indicate Mrs Brown’s medication isn’t working because she’s moving around in bed, which could point to her being in pain or she’s not comfortable.” Eddie Jackson

While some residents could happily walk out of their new homes and return without concern, others could get into trouble without assistance.

To support their residents to live as independently as possible, Minda employed the services of Adelaide-based Jackson Care Technology to trial the use of infrared monitors.

“The solution that we needed to provide was one where carers could move between apartments and still have something to monitor the residents

“We’d just released our new IP Nurse Call system which we installed on the wall above the bed and while that’s ok if they are in their room, what happens if they get up in the night, what happens if they fall over, what happens if they go out the front door?” said Jackson Care Technology’s managing director Eddie Jackson.

They designed a new monitoring device using infrared sensor technology and installed several in the new apartments.

Over the period of four weeks they mapped the daily routines of more than 60 residents, establishing individual datasets of normal behaviour so that any pronounced variation would trigger the support of staff.

“Attached to each workflow were parameters, so if a resident got out of bed, for ‘Mr Brown’ that might be OK, but if he goes in the bathroom and he is in there too long it would raise alarm, or if he goes into someone else’s room, it raises an alarm,” said Jackson.

In the first year of Minda using the monitoring device they saved more than $1 million in labour costs.

“To our knowledge it was something no one else had done in the industry,” said Jackson.

The monitoring device and software enabled Minda to structure their workflow and staff numbers around the needs of their residents.

Jackson said a secondary benefit to the device was the ability for staff to observe consistent variations in a resident’s normal behaviour, such as disrupted sleeping patterns.

“All of the information is time stamped and captured so we could do a sleeping analysis over two weeks and look at the data for ‘Mrs Brown.’

“We could see from 11 o’clock to 6 in the morning if she is moving around or if she is getting up, and if that is a normal behaviour.

“That might indicate Mrs Brown’s medication isn’t working because she’s moving around in bed, which could point to her being in pain or she’s not comfortable. The flip side is that is might be over medicated.

“We are hoping to pick those things up sooner,” said Jackson.

Jackson said they are looking to export their assistive technology internationally with the help of BioSA, a business catalyst company taking South Australian products and technologies to the global market.

“We have a few international clients but we are ramping up and we are talking seriously to a couple of distributors in China who want to distribute our solutions within the Chinese market.

“They [BioSA] have an office in China and they have been instrumental in helping us set ourselves up so that we are ready for export,” he said.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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