A Yorkshire company based in Whitley Bridge near Doncaster claims its new patient monitoring system will revolutionise home care.
Tunstall, which specialises in telecare - a range of products which enable older people, people with physical and learning disabilities, and chronic conditions live independent lives - developed the so-called ADLife system to monitor daily living activities.
In two years, the company, working with Barnsley Hospital and using a research and development grant from Yorkshire Forward, has developed hardware and software for the ADLife system.
'Telecare at its most basic level is reactive so if a person is feeling unwell, fallen or there is an intruder, a personal radio trigger worn by an individual can be activated to alert the 24 hour monitoring centre,' explained Mike Hodges, research and development director at Tunstall.
The next level of telecare consists of sensors around the home that detect environmental issues such as floods, fires or gas leaks as well as movement, so such a system can tell if somebody has fallen or stayed in bed longer than usual which may indicate illness, or if they leave their property during the night, putting themselves at risk.
'Such sensors automatically alert the monitoring centre and appropriate action is taken, whether that is contacting a local key holder, doctor or the emergency services,' Hodges said.
More advanced preventative telecare systems - such as the ADLife system - use sensors that build up patterns of daily life around the home. Sensors are used in the kitchen on electrical appliances and cupboards and throughout the home to detect how often certain areas of the property have been accessed.
'This gives detailed information on mobility, nutrition and bathroom usage. A pattern of normal activities of daily living is established and monitored for a change in routine which may indicate a change in health status. These patterns can be monitored over time to interpret improvement or decline in a person’s condition,' Hodges said.
It took 18 months of planning and research to develop the software programme that uses data from the sensors to work out the patterns of daily routines and changes in those patterns.
Software within Tunstall’s range of Lifeline home units also allow a monitoring centre to communicate with the individual in the home and a website to enable carers to view the daily living data gathered by the system.
Barnsley Hospital assisted in validating and verifying the research.