The use of wearable technology is revolutionising the way we live our lives. Usually seen on a fitness fanatic or a child the collection and application of information from wearable devices is becoming a vital component to tracking health in aged care facilities
South Australian not-for-profit aged care provider Eldercare trialled wearable devices with residents at its Oxford facility to see if the technology could be used for predictive purposes and be applied across the organisation.
Eldercare Site Operations Manager Ryan Midgley explains how wearable technology not only benefits the physical and mental well-being of residents but can also assist with staff care strategies.
Information from the devices allows staff to work more effectively with residents to achieve their specific activity goals which promotes wellness and encourages friendly competition within the Oxford community.
The Fitbits also give residents a sense of purpose and achievement, as well as an increased sense of control over their own health, because they can track their activity each day. Residents also enjoy peace of mind knowing that their health and care needs are being monitored.
The step and sleep activity features are a significant indicator of a resident’s physical well-being and mobility. If a resident’s steps start to decrease, staff can respond and address the reason for this straight away.
Additionally, if a resident’s device identifies that they are experiencing a decrease in their sleep levels, it could indicate that they are unwell, restless or disturbed by other factors. Staff can promptly respond with strategies to help the resident sleep better and rest well.
During the trial, technology partner Loftus developed and utilised algorithms that enabled Oxford’s care staff to collect and analyse valuable data and feedback on heart rates, sleep patterns and number of steps taken. This helped staff to create wellness profiles of each resident over time and monitor their health.
The data also allowed staff to identify changes in a resident’s condition including unexpected heart rate variations and changes in movement patterns. This assisted staff to highlight potential issues of concern such as falls, urinary tract infections and chest infections.
The most significant learning is that the technology and the application of algorithms can provide proactive real time monitoring of a resident’s current health and well-being status. There is great potential in the future development of wearable technology and the ability to provide predictive and enhanced care based on real time qualitative data.
While it is known that health wearables are transforming lives in the fitness industry, the outcome of the Eldercare trial has provided insight into how it can also transform aged care residents’ lives for the better.
Given the trial’s success, Eldercare will progress the project in a way that aligns with our existing tools and systems and provides information on resident sleep, heart rate and movement patterns. For more information about Eldercare visit www.eldercare.net.au