FRIENDS of the Elderly, the charity which runs care homes, daycare centres and a grant-giving service for older people living on low incomes throughout England, always has the wellbeing of its residents and beneficiaries at the heart and forefront of everything it does.
The charity has spoken about how it engages its residents and service users with new technology to enjoy meaningful interactions in the digital world through, not only its varied range of activities but also its integrated electronic monitoring systems using the theme ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’.
Digital technologies refer to a varied range of new technologies including the internet, mobile phones, interactive tools and all the other systems which collect, alert and analyse information such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Mark Wilson, Friends of the Elderly’s Engagement Director said:
“At Friends of the Elderly, we always put the safety and individual, specific needs of our residents and service users first in everything we do. To support this and encourage additional interactions and participation, we have invested in a range of interactive electronic activity tables and screens within our care homes and daycare centres to enable our residents and service users to enjoy, experience and benefit from new, interactive technology. In addition, to enhance our existing safety protocols, we have rolled out a new integrated acoustic monitoring and electronic care planning system in all our care homes.”
Friends of the Elderly has worked with the providers of an acoustic monitoring system and a care home software provider to utilise integrated technology to develop a new way of working at night which allows care team members to safely respond to alerts rather than going into residents’ rooms and disturbing their sleep.
With residents’ consent, the charity installed wireless-enabled acoustic monitoring devices in their bedrooms. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) capability powering the device filters out background noise unrelated to the resident’s activity, works out their activity profile based on sounds they make, then classifies and interprets sounds according to whether they are normal or abnormal for that person.
The device identifies night time events such as unusual movement or calling for help and raises an alert to the care home staff. The data from the monitoring device is then pushed to the Digital Care Planning system, where a resident’s complete care history can be accessed.
Jessica Stone, Friends of the Elderly’s Head of Marketing and Communications said:
“Through working with the digital care platform it has enabled us to integrate electronic care planning in a way which complements our home-from-home ethos of delivering high quality, bespoke care with real-time accurate recording of outcomes. In addition, the integration with the resident acoustic monitoring system has helped our care home teams to prevent falls, not to disturb sleep and free-up time to spend on residents’ wellbeing and support activities.”
The system has already made a positive impact. One example was at Bradbury Court, Friends of the Elderly’s dementia care home in Malvern. During the night, the wireless acoustic monitor alerted the night care team to a resident who was in distress. They were immediately made aware of the resident’s situation and were able to assist her straight away and call an ambulance. The resident had suffered a cardiac arrest but fully recovered and returned to the care home two days later.
The resident’s daughter said:
“Without the new system, Mum’s cardiac arrest could have potentially not been detected until the next scheduled check. I am so grateful Friends of the Elderly has implemented this innovative system.”
The charity has also installed a range of interactive tables and screens in its care homes and daycare centres. The large, easy to use devices have touchscreens that are not too dissimilar to an iPad or smartphone, but on a much larger scale.
Andy Cumper, the Manager at Friends of the Elderly’s Bernard Sunley care home in Woking said:
It’s been a huge success and it’s great to see our residents happily getting to grips with the new technology and making the most of all the different applications it has to offer. It’s easy to use as the large touchscreen makes it very straightforward for our residents – and staff – to navigate and get going with anything they fancy doing.
“It’s a great addition to Friends of the Elderly’s commitment to providing exceptional standards of care through person-centred, bespoke care as all residents can join in and take part in the group activities or use it on their own. It’s up to them – they can do what they want to do when they want to do it.”
For residents who are living with dementia, using and engaging with the interactive tables and screens can increase their mental stimulation through enjoying reminiscing pastimes, playing games, sensory, learning and relaxation activities.
In addition, it is a great tool for the charity’s care teams as by browsing the web and familiarising the residents with the many possibilities of the internet, they can engage and discover past and unknown interests.
Ruth Arnold, the charity’s Dementia Champion at The Retired Nurses National Home in Bournemouth added:
“For residents living with dementia, an interactive table’s sensory games, reminiscing and relaxation applications help to keep them mentally active and stimulated.”
Sian Hennessy, the Activities Co-ordinator at Bradbury Court has seen the positive impact their interactive table has had on her residents. Sian said:
“Our interactive table has a large 32” colour flat screen and can be easily positioned to suit the resident’s needs. It’s proved to be a big hit with everyone, whether for group or individual use.
“For example, a group of our residents like using it together and work as a team to play Word Search and others love watching Google Earth looking at different types of cars. It’s also great for our residents whose eyesight isn’t very good as they enjoy the Bubble Blasting and Colour Swirl games.”
“According to current predictions, by 2050 there will be two billion people over the age of 60, which equates to 22 percent of the population. At Friends of the Elderly, each person we support has experienced a varied and colourful life and these experiences, when shared with staff, build a bond, trust and help develop each persons’ care and support plan. We are honoured and privileged to provide personalised care and support that is built around each resident and service user’s individual care and support needs.”