Aged care providers are rolling out smart technology that plugs into everyday household appliances to help monitor the safety of home care clients.
VMCH is one of some 20 providers across Australia providing access to the Umps system.
The system – named after its developer’s grandfather – attaches smart plugs to appliances like kettles, radio, televisions, fridges and lamps.
The plugs monitor daily interactions between the appliances and the householder and ‘learn’ a person’s unique patterns of a behaviour.
If a change of routine is detected the system sends an alert to family, friends or carers.
After trialing the technology in Gippsland, VMCH has now installed the system for 40 clients using HCP funding.
One of these is Valerie, who lives alone in Fitzroy and struggles with periods of confusion.
Valerie had the system installed on the suggestion of her case manager Samuel.
“I am glad she has the system set up now,” Samuel says.
“If anything happens to her, we will know and can send help. It’s a bit hard sometimes, when our clients live alone. It’s always a worry when we call and there is no answer, so this is a backup.”
VMCH now hopes to use new flexibility arrangements recently announced in response to COVID-19 by the federal government to roll the technology out to more of its 1,300 home care recipients, as well as 700 clients who are eligible for CHSP funding, strategy and innovation advisor Chris Coughlan says.
Extra security during COVID-19
Mr Coughlan says the coronavirus lockdown has accelerated deployment of the technology.
“We were looking for technologies that can help us be more responsive to clients and we started with a trial last August,” he told Community Care Review.
“The COVID-19 situation has forced us to accelerate that project, so there’s been some benefits with the lock down in terms of getting technology in the hands of our clients.”
The Umps system was designed by 29-year-old Adam Jahnke after his grandfather was hospitalised for a fall in 2016.
When Mr Jahnke’s father returned home, Mr Jahnke wanted him to continue be able to live independently, so he looked to technology for a solution.
Mr Jahnke wasn’t happy with the existing solutions so he developed his own, and Umps Health was launched as a startup that year.
The company worked with home care providers to design the system from the ground.
“We worked with people on home care packages in particular to understand all the intricacies about deploying the technology into peoples homes to resolve those issues,” Mr Jahnke told CCR.
The technology, which is funded via the HCP, CHSP and NDIS, is now being used in 1,000 homes, with a view to expanding overseas once the the pandemic crisis eases.
Mr Jahnke says the Umps system has the benefit of being non-intrusive, simple to install and working in harmony with individual lifestyles.
“The feedback has been that complicated solutions with lots of sensors in a person’s home can be perceived as intrusive,” he says.
Mr Jahnke says Umps is an example of technology being used in response to a crisis, but believes the next phase will see it adopted in a more mainstream way.