Assistive tech pilot to encourage independent living for Cardiff residents
New technology startup Care Direct Technology has partnered with mirus, a not-for-profit organisation that supports adults and young people with disabilities across Wales.
Since 14th July 2020, people supported by mirus in Riverside, Cardiff have been piloting elements of Care Direct’s new remote monitoring solution, which incorporates a suite of assistive technology products that collectively report back to an innovative smartphone app.
The products include discreet IoT sensors, used to detect patterns and changes in the person’s home environment. The sensors allow support workers to gain an oversight of what is happening in a number of tenants’ apartments at once, monitoring movement, temperature and when key electrical items have been used.
Crucially, this can be done without entering the homes, providing a means of maintaining increased social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic whilst still allowing a high level of support to take place.
Residents supported have also been trialling Care Direct’s wearable emergency alarm: an easy-to-use device that automatically detects if the person has fallen or has left a predetermined geofenced area, sending an alert to the carer’s app. The device allows the parties to speak to each other as they would on the phone and reassures the wearer that they have a direct line to a trusted person who will help them if there is an emergency.
The devices are showerproof and work out in the community as well as around the home.
Tom Goldwater, Team Manager, mirus Wales, said: “The products we have been trialling are compact and easy to use, making them ideal for the demographic of people we support. The integrated app system means that the potential for increasing people’s independence in a non-intrusive and empowering manner are incredible; whilst keeping people safe we can also encourage positive risk taking and confidence building approaches to supporting those with additional needs.
“The product is modern and due to it not being a centralised system like older incarnations we can use it in an adaptive and person-centred way. The people we support are using the technology in the manner that suits them and this was very pleasing for us to see, that the product can be utilised in the appropriate manner by people themselves, organically.”
In weeks to come, people supported by mirus will also be testing Care Direct’s smartwatch and voice-activated smart hub.
“For the people we support we are looking at increasing independence, confidence and life-skills to the point the person can move on to more independent living,” Tom continued. “These tools ensure that people can access the community and be confident of contacting support if they become uncomfortable or encounter a problem, whilst family and staff have the peace of mind.
“This also means, from a service provider’s perspective, that we can focus resources on progressive and developmental aspects of the job, rather than providing a ‘just-in-case’ service.”
Care Direct Technology was founded in June 2019. The company believes that benefits of the products developed in the last year could be far reaching, stating: “The care sector, as we know, is already over-stretched. The pressures of an ageing society coupled with the additional demands on carers and families as a result of COVID-19 mean that we must utilise technology to address the discrepancy between the scale of need and current provision.
“Using Care Direct products to collect data in this way improves time management by accessing multiple streams of information from one source. This can reduce costs and alleviate the pressure on care staff to be in many places at once, all the while supporting individuals to live engaged and independent lives.
“This problem is worldwide so the scope of our technology’s potential is global. To make that scale of difference is what we are striving for.”