People suffering from dementia often have to mainly rely on other family members or care takers to care for them. However there is a possibility that these dementia patients may be able to even live independently on their own. This could be possible through the innovative ‘smart’ sensing systems developed at the University of Bath.
After installation, these systems not only keep a check on the person’s actions and movements but they also voice-prompt and remind the patient, for instance, to turn off the tap. These systems even have the capability of automatically switching off lights or appliances on their own with the purpose of avoiding any potential danger. Voice prompts may also be undertaken in the voice of family members or friends, in order to reassure and influence behavior of the patient.
Lead scientist involved in the development of the system, Professor Roger Orpwood, says that, “The driver really has been to arrive at a creative engineering solution that addresses real problems faced by real people with real needs. The key is to focus on enabling people, not on taking decisions away from them.”
This innovative technology has, on a trial basis, been set up in two care homes in the UK, where both have reported good results. These results have shown promise to aid people with dementia to gain more positive control over their life. This could mainly be useful and beneficial to those people who live alone. By helping a person with dementia to live independently, it indirectly reduces the person’s burden on family members or care takers.
On installation, these systems are believed to be accessible through a simple ‘plug in and use’ basis. The main aim is to customize these systems as per the individual needs of people. This technology aims to play the role of a live-in care taker as much as possible. These systems can also be remotely monitored by healthcare officials through a computer.
Professor Orpwood also states that, “The next step is to make sure the systems can be managed by non-technical local authority carers and healthcare staff. If manufacturers can be brought on board, we could see systems in people’s houses within five years or so.”
These systems were funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). These ‘smart’ technologies were displayed at the EPSRC’s ‘Pioneers 09’ showcase event at the Olympia Conference Centre in London. Within five years of time these systems would commercially become available for use.