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TAPPI Project Update: Sensors NOT Cameras!

As part of the TAPPI Project, the individuals we support at Llys Y Werin, our Extra Care Service in Gorseinon, have been introduced to Cascade 3d – an innovative technology solution, which could add an extra layer of safety and reassurance to their day to day lives.

The Technology for our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation (TAPPI) project aims to improve the way technology is used in housing and care for older people.

Led by the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (Housing LIN), the TEC Services Association (TSA) and funded by The Dunhill Medical Trust, TAPPI seeks to address the opportunity that technology has to enhance the lives of our ageing population and the barriers that prevent its adoption.

Despite a bit of a shaky start, where individuals were concerned about cameras in their room, they eventually came to be enthusiastic about what the tech had to offer. There were six individuals present at the demo, all with varying levels of mobility and technological know-how. The main concern from everyone in the room was that they wanted to keep their independence, without losing their privacy.

Will, the Chief Customer Officer at Cascade 3D reassured the individuals that the devices they use aren’t cameras, but clever sensors, which report data back to a “raspberry pie” – an inconspicuous black box, which would sit unassumingly on a shelf in the individual’s room.

Will explained that there were a variety of sensors available, all of which could be utilised to solve differing issues.

For example:

  • Temperature sensors: Can tell if an individual has accidentally switched the heating on. Or if their room is uncomfortably cold.
  • Door sensors: Can detect whether an individual has left their room and not re-entered for a long period of time. Or vice-versa.
  • Room sensors: Can tell whether an individual is up out of bed at the usual time.
  • Kettle, microwave and fridge sensors: Can tell if an individual has cooked. Drank enough. Eaten enough.

These sensors then start to build a pattern of behaviour. And if this pattern changes in any way, it’s possible to alert the individual, a Pobl colleague and/or a family member to investigate.

The more the individuals heard about the technology, the more interested they were. Marilyn, one of the individuals we support, mentioned that she often forgets to take her medication. Will suggested that a sensor could be fitted to the cupboard door where she keeps her tablets. Then, if the cupboard wasn’t opened in the morning, the tech could send her a text reminder. Marilyn thought this was “brilliant”.

No more "morning call"?

Another thing Marilyn mentioned was the daily “morning call” which Pobl colleagues give to individuals living at the service. She said, “Some people find the call a bit intrusive. Could this tech take away the need for the call?” Will then explained that it was possible that if all individuals had the sensors installed, colleagues would be able to single out anyone who hadn’t got out of bed – or weren’t behaving in their regular pattern. As Will explained, “If you’re up and about as normal, there’s no need to call you.” Marilyn agreed and said, “that sounds straight-forward and very useful.”

Another individual, Paul, was interested in a blood pressure sensor and humidity sensor, which Will showed everyone. Paul suffers from falls when his blood pressure drops suddenly. He said, “I’d like for my daughter to be able to keep an eye on my blood pressure on my phone. It sounds great.”

Prevention is better than cure

Will explained to everyone that the tech isn’t intended to be used in an emergency circumstance. Its purpose is to detect changes in behaviour which could be an early signal of something going wrong. He said, “We have toilet cistern sensors, which can highlight whether a person has been visiting the toilet more often than usual. This can flag up UTI’s early and prevent hospital stays.”

The individuals all agreed that they all have different care needs and could all use a different mix of sensors. Marilyn said, “There are lots of good points here” and they all agreed that they’d be interested in having sensors in their homes.

All in all, the demo was a big success, with individuals leaving feeling better informed and excited about how the technology could keep them safe, while they retain their independence. And really, that’s the essence of the TAPPI Project and the reason that Llys Y Werin is acting as a testbed partner. Click here to find out more about the TAPPI Project.