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High-tech monitoring program for aged care residents in development


The team behind new technology that monitors the health wellbeing of aged care residents through a series of non-invasive sensors and alerts staff to potential issues has received a funding boost to further its development.

Melbourne-based research and advanced manufacturing company Sleeptite will receive $1.7 million over three years to develop and test its monitoring program from the Cooperative Research Centre’s funding program, the government announced on Monday.

The monitoring technology aims to provide aged care nurses, carers and facility managers with real-time health and wellbeing information of residents in order to improve care outcomes and workflow and reduce unnecessary night time disruptions.

Sleeptite CEO Cameron van den Dungen said the technology will increase the quality of care in aged care facilities without having to raise the cost of resident care.

“We’re aiming to give people no matter what level of the system they’re at, the best quality of care we can give,” Mr van den Dungen told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Raising awareness about the monitoring program and getting nurses and care staff on board with the technology are among the ways these aims can be achieved, Mr van den Dungen said.

“I’ve spent a lot of time speaking with the nurses and carers about what they need and what will make their lives easier,” he said.

He said the program could finalised and available for use in as early as a year.

The development of the monitoring program and the flexible sensor-based technology is currently in the first of three phases of development.

Phase one includes detecting whether or not a resident is in their bed and the platform will be expanded through phases two and three to include the monitoring of residents’ breathing and heartrate through the use of medical grade devices, Mr van den Dungen said.

The flexible sensors are placed in the bedding, including the mattress, bed sheets and covers to create a non-invasive approach.

“Residents don’t have to wear a shirt, patch or have a cord attached to them,” Mr van den Dungen said.

These sensors also aim to reassure staff and eliminate false alarms that may occur with other resident monitoring technology.

Aged care nurses and care workers have “a weight in the back of their minds that during the night they might miss something. This will allow them to direct their energies to the right locations and use their time more efficiently,” Mr van den Dungen said.

Testing all heavy duty and industrial strength cleaners are among the real-world application challenges of developing the aged care monitoring program, Mr van den Dungen said

“We’ve been washing our sensors and we know that works, but we haven’t tried every single product that the market uses for washing. For us, it’s about fitting the product into the aged care environment, rather than making them fit what we need them to do,” he said.

Mr van den Dungen said a number of providers have expressed interest in being part of future clinical trial of the program, including Lifeview Residential Care and Royal Freemasons’ Benevolent Institution.

“Getting expressions of interest as part of our trials is a testament to the problem we are trying to solve,” he said.

Mr van den Dungen said they hoped to commence clinical trials in residential aged care facilities within six to nine months and launch a product within 12 to 18 months.

Sleeptite is working with Australian and international technology, research and industry experts and project partners RMIT University, Canadian biometric data specialist Hexoskin and Melbourne-based manufacturer Sleepeezee to develop the monitoring program.

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