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Technology to help you in the home

Would you be surprised to know that you use technology already in everyday life? It comes in the form of devices to alert us:

  • It is time to get up – alarm clocks
  • There is smoke in the house – smoke detectors
  • There is someone at the door – doorbells

The aims of care technology

  • Help people to live at home safely, securely and independently
  • Put people back in control of their lives as much as possible
  • Support people to care for their loved ones for longer, by removing some of their worries
  • Reduce the number of people needing to go to hospital, and help those that are to be discharged earlier
  • Reduce the number of people needing long-term residential care

What does care technology do?

Care technology describes a range of products or services that help people to remain safe, independent and in control. Care technology can be used to support adults in a number of ways:

  • Daily living
  • Calling for help
  • Detecting if a person has had a fall
  • Detecting if there is a fire or flood at home
  • Detecting if a person who needs assistance leaves a room or building

Care technology comes under the umbrella term of ‘Technology Enabled Care’ which encompasses assistive technology, telecare, telehealth and telemedicine.

Technology that can help you to remain independent

There is a wide range of care technology available, these include:

  • Enabling daily living
    Technology can help people to continue essential activities of daily living, and help people re-learn skills lost due to illness or disability. It can be used to provide reminders, and coping strategies.
  • Carelines
    A careline is a device with a button that can be pressed to call for help. It can be worn around the neck or on the wrist. The speaker unit will pick up the person’s voice wherever they are in the house (see picture). The monitoring centre, who have trained call handlers will speak to with them, and with their permission contact a friend or relative, or the emergency services.
  • Falls sensors
    If a person has a high risk of falls, then a falls sensor supports them to get help when they need it. The sensor picks up impact and a change in position, especially if the person is lying down for a while. These can be worn as a pendant around the neck, on a person’s wrist like a watch, or clipped onto a belt.

    Alternatively, a sensor can be fitted to detect if a person has got out of a chair, or if they have not returned to bed after they have left it for a while. This won’t prevent a fall, but it does help to make sure that someone is safe in their bed or chair. The sensor makes sure that if a person has had a fall, they won’t be lying on the floor injured for a long time.

  • Support for people who are living with dementia
    Losing the ability to remember how to carry out certain tasks can be worrying and frightening to all concerned. Technology can also be used to prompt a person to complete daily tasks, such as taking their medication.

    Technology can be used to track a person’s location in case they go out and may become lost. It can also detect whether a person has fallen and send an alert for help.

  • Environmental sensors
    Having smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors or flood sensors linked to a careline provides reassurance that fire, carbon monoxide or flooding will be immediately detected and alerted to a monitoring centre, who will raise an alarm with the emergency services.

    You may find it useful to arrange to have a Safe and Well visit from a member of the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. To contact them please telephone 0800 038 2323 or see the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service website.

  • Support for carers
    Caring for someone can be tiring and stressful. Technology can help. For example, sensors can alert you when a person has got up from the chair or bed, or when they have left their home. Technology may help a carer if the person they are caring for has left the home and become lost.

    There are also more advanced technology systems that can be installed into the home. These work by placing small, discreet sensors around the rooms in the home. These can monitor changes in temperature, and specific activities such as whether the front door is left open for a period of time.

  • Support for people to coming home from hospital
    The technology above could benefit a person and support their carers following the return home from hospital.

Accessing care technology services

Since April 2020 we have been working with our selected partner Argenti to offer a care technology service. The Argenti team sits within Dorset Council working closely with colleagues, including Occupational Therapists in the Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Team to deliver a personalised service for people living in Dorset.

You can contact our Adult Access Team or your key worker at Dorset Council to discuss what may be available to support you. Dorset Council and Argenti will support a person who is eligible for support. Everyone’s needs are different and the Adult Access team will be able to advise you. If appropriate they will raise a referral to Argenti who will arrange for a trained Assessor to assess you or your family member in your home environment.

If you feel that you would benefit from care technology and would like the Council to carry out a formal assessment of your needs for care and support, please contact our Adult Access Team:

In addition to the services provided by Dorset Council, Argenti also offer a care technology service for self-funders which is designed to maximize independence, boost confidence and reassure loved ones. This chargeable service is particularly aimed at people in Dorset who are planning to manage their own needs for as long as they can. People can buy it for themselves, a friend or a relative.

Have a look at the Care Technology House which can help you identify useful care technology to meet your needs.

Telehealth services

Technology can also be used to help monitor health needs. A person can record some of their own daily vital signs and pass this information via a smart phone app to a central point supported by qualified nurses or health professionals who can interpret the data. This way the person can understand how their condition affects their body and staff are alerted if an intervention is needed.

In Dorset, this is funded by the Dorset NHS Clinical Commissioning Group at the Telehealth Hub in Poole. The conditions supported through this program are Cardiac Failure (heart failure) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Patients can take their pulse rate, blood pressure, temperature, weight and oxygen update (oxygen saturation) by using small devices that link to the Telehealth Hub on a daily basis, if someone needs a change to their medication or a new medication the specialist nurses can arrange this immediately. Speak to your GP if you feel this could help you.

Further information on technology to help you in the home

The following information provides advice on the different types of technology that can support people inside and outside of their homes. More information on the suppliers you can buy this technology from directly, including Argenti, are listed on our directory.  View the directory here

Technology for people experiencing falls

If the person is falling frequently consider whether a falls detector linked to a careline may assist. Detectors can pick up the impact and a change in position from a fall, especially if the person is lying down for a while.

If someone has memory loss, poor mobility and is at risk of falls during the day consider a chair-leaving sensor to alert a carer. A bed-leaving sensor can be set to detect if a person hasn’t returned to bed after they have left it for a while. This won’t prevent a fall but will mean the fall is detected and avoid a person who may be injured lying on the floor for a long time. Sensors can be linked to a pager to alert the carer and to the 24-hour monitoring centre.

It is a good idea to remove and / or reposition items in the home that could cause a fall. This includes rugs, ripped stair carpets, trailing cables and leads, and any unnecessary clutter. Broken safety items, such as banister rails, should be replaced.

Also consider the following:

  • Can the person see where they are going at night?
  • Does the light bulb on the stairs need replacing? Does the person need night lights in the hallway to light a way to the bathroom?
  • Can the person see well? Consider if they need their eyesight checked.
  • What type of slippers does the person wear? Are they too loose-fitting?
  • Does the person have problems with their feet? Are they able to look after their feet and cut their toenails?

If you are worried about falls for yourself or a loved one, we would advise you to speak to your GP so that any medical reasons can be ruled out. Your GP can refer a person to physiotherapy and / or occupational therapists.

Technology to support people who are living with dementia

Technology can support many people both inside and outside their home. GPS (satellite navigation) trackers can be suitable for someone with early, moderate or severe dementia. Some questions to think about are:

  • Does the person regularly go out and are they at risk of falling, not returning home, or getting lost?
  • Does the person caring for them have access to a mobile phone and / or the internet?
  • Will the person wear a wrist-worn tracker or one around their neck?
  • What is in place to enable the person to take the tracker with them?

Some devices can send an alert directly back to a mobile phone or computer/tablet to alert if support is needed outside of the home.

Some of the devices can also prompt the person as well, for example to alert them to take their medication if they are out and about. These devices can be linked to a 24-hour monitoring service, or linked straight to a smart mobile phone held by the carer or family to alert them.

There are many more GPS trackers out on the market. Suppliers you can buy this technology from directly, including Argenti, are listed on our directory.  View our directory. In addition, many of the mobile phone providers are starting to offer GPS tracker technology alongside their traditional phone device, so you may prefer to check with those providers as well.

Technology to support carers

Often you can take basic practical steps to prompt and support a person with early memory loss, such as using laminated signs for reminders and chalk boards with calendars nearby to remind them of important appointments. Often these practical and cheap solutions are very effective in providing support initially.

There are many technology devices that can support a carer by providing them with an alert. For example if the person gets up in the night and the carer sleeps in another room, consider items such as a bed-leaving sensor that would alert if the person who is likely to fall, got out of bed.

If a carer is worried about leaving the person at home, it may be helpful to look for a careline that will enable them to call for help in an emergency and contact the carer. A careline can be linked to several sensors at a time. When the alarm is activated, either manually or via an automatic device, an adviser will speak to the person to establish what kind of help they need, before taking appropriate action. This could include contacting someone the person has assigned as a responder (a local family member, neighbour or friend) to visit and check that they are all right. If necessary, the adviser will contact the emergency services.

If the person likes to go out for a walk there are devices to support them. See our section above on ‘Technology to support people who are living with dementia’.

If a carer does not live nearby or wants to be reassured that the person is managing at home, there are technology systems that can help to monitor a variety of activities.

More information on the suppliers you can buy this technology from directly, including Argenti, are listed on our directory.  View our directory.  

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