One of Australia’s leading aged care technology providers says a reported increase in falls in the elderly is causing a rise in long-term injuries and a massive strain on the economy.
Research released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed that rates of injuries to the head almost doubled over the past ten years with roughly 125,000 people aged 65 and over seriously injured due to a fall in a 12-month period.
A previous report by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing found that unless effective measures were put in place, the cost of fall related injuries in Australia will increase threefold to $1.375 billion per year by 2051.
HSC Technology Group’s Managing Director Graham Russell says simple technology can dramatically reduce these figures by providing accurate fall detection, rapid response times, real-time location systems and proactive care alerts.
“The industry needs to up its game in relation to fall detection, ultimately to combat an expected increase fuelled by Australia’s substantial ageing population and staff shortages,” says Mr Russell.
“However it’s not as simple as just a single device to alert or detect that something’s gone wrong as statistics have shown that in many falls the person was not carrying their emergency device, so we need to look at technologies that don’t require the use of just wearables.
“For example if someone has a fall they can call out to a voice activation device that will contact a nurse or ambulance, dramatically increasing the response time which is particularly important following a fall and can dramatically affect the persons recovery.
“Sensors linked to software can also provide accurate real-time location data and can tell the difference between someone falling over and someone who’s tying their shoelace, decreasing the issue of false alarms.”
HSC utilises next generation software that collects data from a series of strategically and discretely placed sensors that creates alerts for care providers, family members and nurses.
Mr Russell says that while falls have become common, statistics have also shown that the majority of seniors who have fallen, will do so again, often within months and the key is early detection.
“Our technology allows us to understand someone’s mobility, how they are moving around, their hygiene, meal preparation and more, which allows us not to just respond to alerts, but to provide proactive care if parts of their daily living routine is not being supported,” he says.
“For example, we use humidity sensors in the bathroom that can tell whether the shower has been turned on and off, so it can track and detect a change in someone’s hygiene marker without invading their privacy.
“If a change is detected, we’re able to send a nurse to investigate further and determine whether the change is due to something innocuous or something that requires medical attention.
“Our technology suite also increases operational efficiency and reduces costs, providing a crucial second set of eyes in a severely understaffed sector.”
Mr Russell says given the COVID-19 pandemic and the significant risks posed to those in aged care Australia-wide, a reliable and efficient means of technology to monitor our seniors needs to become the national norm.
“Think of it like a virtual nurse that can look after around 200 residents in a community, providing medical alarms and proactive alerts versus one person doing the rounds to attend to roughly 25 to 30 people, he says.
“Not only does our technology allow care providers to make cost effective and proactive care decisions, but also demonstrates transparency and accountability, which is one of the key takeaways of the Royal Commission.”