A GROUND-BREAKING trial exploring how technology can be used to support older people to live well in their own homes is set to take place in Dorset this summer.

Dorset County Council has joined forces with Dorset-based Nourish Care and European researchers to explore the use of new technologies in care management for vulnerable people.

The trial will look at connecting people caring for a family member or friend and will give multiple carers access to shared calendar, task and wellbeing checks.

Information on a person receiving care is presented online in a secure timeline, accessible to authorised users to allow a full picture of all the support a vulnerable person is receiving and provides details of their wellbeing.

People will be better able to remain in their own homes and stay safe, as the risks associated with independent living can be monitored and responded to before a crisis develops.

The project will focus on the use of mobile apps and handheld devices, but will also extend to other products such as “wearables” – including smart watches to assist people to stay in their own homes and improving the overall quality of care provided.

The new app-based system, which is already being used in care homes, will also be trialling with home care in Belgium and Portugal and is supported with funding from the AAL (Ambient Assisted Living) Joint Programme.

The trial will include people with dementia living at home, and people returning home after a stay in hospital including those at risk of dehydration. It will look at ways to use technology to improve quality of care, helping people to stay independent and reduce the need for readmission to hospital.

The people invited to take part in the trial typically receive care from many different sources – such as doctors, nurses, care workers and meal providers, as well as family and carers.

Co-ordinating that information between all the care providers has always been a challenge, and in many cases records are still kept on paper.

The project will look at ways to use the technology such as mobile apps to improve information sharing between carers, family and care professionals, with the person staying in control of who can see what.

The main aim of the project is prevention made possible by using technology to monitor aspects of a person’s wellbeing such as, check that they are eating enough and staying hydrated.

Alison Waller, head of partnership and performance for adult social care at Dorset County Council, said:

“The need to expand and develop care for older people, including those with dementia, is a priority. As a region with a significant proportion of older people, we want to make sure we can find ways to improve the care we provide. There is huge potential for technology to support longer independent living and increased peace of mind for the whole family and carers.

Nuno Almeida, Founder and CEO of Nourish said:

“We have so much new technology available, and we want to look at how we can use it in a way that makes sense. Our focus is on trying to ensure people have the best possible quality of life, which is an enormous challenge when people have complex health and social needs.

“Addressing small problems early has the potential to stop them turning into bigger issues. One of the major risk factors for falls is dehydration. Making sure people get enough fluids has been shown to reduce the chance of them having a fall and ending up in hospital.

“But one reminder to drink a glass of water may not be enough. So in this trial we want to look at how we can use technology to prompt, remind and actually monitor if a person has drunk enough. Crucially, everyone in the care team then needs to know about it. Getting some of these apparently small things right can lead to a huge difference to a person’s wellbeing. This is about delivering health and social care, but it is also about prevention.”

The first results from the trial should be available early next year with a roll-out of a wider programme shortly after.


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