Home is where the heart is

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The modern family is not one where we all live in the same house, this is often driven by our desire for independence, once we become adults, we more often than not want to spread our wings and build our own nest. However as “adult children” move away, their parent and elderly relatives grow older which brings a new set of challenges and conditions for them to face. When I became an “adult child’ I moved away from home, in fact I moved over 250 miles away; initially I did not worry about my parent’s health and safety. However, twenty years later, my parent’s health and safety are constantly on my mind, what would happen if they were to have an accident at home and how would they receive the care and help needed in a timely manner? I also want to get daily updates from their medical professionals so I can help and do the right thing for my parents, but distance has been my enemy!

With a growing ageing population in the UK, carers are overstretched and often many carers have to see upward of 30 clients a day, some visits may only be 15 minutes in duration. It is important that the short amount of time with their clients is maximised, yet the care industry predominantly uses paper-based methods to record visits, so much of that time is spent doing paper work recording the visit.

During a visit a carer needs to check the personal care plans, ensure that their client has taken their medication, that they are clean and dressed along with about another 15 or so checks to do with their health and wellbeing. With the writing and checking of each report eating into their time to care and interact with each person, I couldn’t understand how this was still a paper-based activity in the digital world we now live in today. I was further frustrated as the care agencies had such a small touch point with my parents, if a visit is only 15 minutes, they could be alone for the other 23hours and 45minutes of the day, what if something happened then?

One way to help relieve some of this pressure on our care system and enable those wanting to stay in their homes longer and safely is with the Internet of Things, (IoT). Many Domiciliary Care Agencies and Councils today are trialling IoT systems to non-invasively monitor, with patient consent, their client’s behavioural patterns. With “non-invasive’ IOT sensors installed around the home collecting data on a client’s daily routine, care providers have a means to know that their clients are going about their normal day and also be highlighted about any anomalies, such as the front door being left open, or the kettle not being turned on in the morning, a client getting out of bed over 15 times in the night.

Karantis360 is transforming how care is provided through their mobile application and IoT solution which was specifically designed by carers to make sure clients are supported and cared for enabling them to stay in their own homes. With the mobile app, carers are now relieved of the burden of paper work. Speech to text function allows them to record their visit and gives them valuable time back to spend with their clients. With the carer potentially being the only person the client might see in a day or week; this time back is so critical to help with loneliness and isolation.

In addition, Karantis360 enables the carer to take a picture of their client and share this with their loved ones and the Care Agency along with the care record. This provides transparency and enables effective monitoring and reporting of the client’s situation and condition. Moreover, the family are invited to rate the care that their loved one is receiving on a daily basis. Getting a digital view of your family member and an update is a small thing but something that makes you feel much happier about how your loved ones are being cared for.

For many with elderly relatives, there is a worry of whether your loved one is well or not, “has mum fallen over”, “is she going about her daily routine”, “is she spending all day in bed”, these concerns and others will be familiar and the desire to have an immediate way to check in and confirm mum is OK and be able to take action if she isn’t, seem like quite basic requirements to me. Karantis360 offers this peace of mind by being able to detect and notify carers and loved ones when an anomaly occurs outside of “mum” or “dad’s” habitual behaviour. This can help the care provider or loved one to take action within a reasonable time to help with the wellbeing and safety of loved ones.

Having installed the Karantis360 system into my parents’ house, the system has learnt their daily patterns, movements and basic activities such as cooking and making hot drinks. With the machine learning capability built on the IBM Cloud, Karantis360 can alert me when my parent’s behaviour changes or if there is a potential issue. For me it has helped provide reassurance; I know that if something happens, I will get a notification, and the care agency or I can help with getting the care they need quickly. The solution has helped to empower my parents and help keep their health and wellbeing in check, but on a daily basis as their daughter it has given me and my siblings peace of mind that our parents are being cared for.

Do my parents feel spied on – NO. There are no cameras, no voice or sound sensors, just motion, vibration, temperature and so on which pick up small signatures which indicates patterns of activity.

The system does not provide solutions only alerts, but in doing so it enables the Care providers or family to know who is in need of help and when, or when a person’s condition has changed. The efficiencies that this enables means care can be responsive, insightful and tailored; it enables care providers to look after more individuals in their own homes where they are happiest as they are maintaining their independence. Quality of life is just as important whether you are 9 or 90, so enabling independence for longer and keeping people in their own homes is a small thing we can enable for so many. As we grow older each day, I want to ensure that my parents as well as I in the future have high quality care in our homes for as long as possible!

Home is where the heart is…. To learn more, read our press release here or visit our landing page to learn more about IBM Cloud.

Cloud & Cognitive Technical Leader, IBM

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