The possibility for technology to help older people live independently for longer is being put to the test in an innovative study being run in collaboration with our Design Integration team and Bolton Clarke Research Institute.
Five clients in Melbourne have been selected to trial a new smart home system, called Sofihub.
The Sofihub system is designed to learn about a person’s habits at home, and notify their family or carer if there is a problem. It can also be programmed to remind clients about meals, medications and scheduled home visits, using voice technology.
The system has a computer console and motion detectors installed around the house which enable Sofihub to build up a detailed picture of the client’s usual routine, such as when they go to bed at night or get up in the morning. It can then identify variations in their behaviour, which might indicate they are unwell and in need of assistance. If something unusual happens, it can automatically raise the alarm with carers or send an alert to other devices including our customer service centre.
Design Integration Lead, Matiu Bush said rapid advances in new technology could play an important role in optimising the health and social wellbeing of older Australians making it possible for them to stay at home with confidence.
“Currently 25 per cent of the population aged over 65 live alone, including a third of women, so there is a real need for ‘smart’ technologies that can monitor health and link to service providers such as Bolton Clarke,” he said.
“Most people are keen to maintain their independence and the use of appropriate design principles and assistive technologies is making this possible like never before. As the technology evolves, we are seeing a growing number of products and services becoming available.”
The initial four-week Sofihub pilot project will test the feasibility and acceptability of the home installation. The results will inform the development of a larger research proposal to evaluate the technology’s potential to reduce social isolation, support clients with cognitive decline, help clients maintain their independence and wellbeing, and reducing carer stress.