Helping vulnerable people stay independent during the COVID-19 outbreak
We’ve been working with UK local authorities in Dorset, Hampshire, Barnet and Essex to use innovative technology-enabled care, including wearable detectors, door sensors and personal GPS, to help elderly or vulnerable people live independently in their own homes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, that service has never been more valuable. It’s helped people stay autonomous, as well as combatting isolation by keeping them in touch with their families. And it’s taken the pressure off social care and healthcare services – that were already stretched. By adapting how teams work, we’ve made sure service users stay safe despite the restrictions, without compromising their independence.
- Supported more than 30,000 vulnerable people who use our service
- Introduced innovative ways to run the service despite the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Introduced 14,000 users to care technology to support people living with conditions such as epilepsy, dementia, MS and mental health issues
A valued help in a time of crisis
With less money available for social care and more people than ever needing it, there’s a growing realisation that technology can help fill the void.
Argenti, our innovative approach to technology-enabled care, gives advanced automated support to those in need 24 hours a day and connects care workers to service users for better, more efficient care. The technology includes wearable detectors and other devices to alert the service if someone has a fall, prompt users to take medication or allow users to get support when required. It also includes door sensors or personal GPS devices to enable users to access the community safely and confidently, or sensors to detect abnormal temperatures or flooding in the house. The service alerts users’ relatives or care staff from its 24-hour monitoring centre. And it includes ongoing innovation to explore the potential of utilising cobots, smart socks to provide social care support.
It has helped more than 30,000 people live independently across four local authority areas. They range from elderly people with dementia or mobility problems to parents of children with severe physical or mental disabilities who benefit from technological support to better manage their situation.
Local authorities refer people to the service. Argenti then works with them to assess their needs and matches the right combination of technology to help them live more comfortably in their own homes. This stops them relying on round-the-clock help at home or residential care.
Coping with COVID-19
The service has played a significant role in the COVID-19 crisis. It helps users feel safe when they’re reluctant to have visits from social care staff. It frees capacity in hospitals which can discharge non-COVID patients sooner because the technology makes their home environment safer. It also helps combat loneliness intensified by not being able to see relatives, as well as filling the gap left by relatives who can’t visit because they’re shielding. And it can help domestic abuse victims by enabling them to silently alert a monitoring centre when they feel threatened by violence or coercion.
Despite the pandemic placing severe restrictions on teams’ work, our experts in adult social care worked closely with local authorities to quickly make sure the service continues safely.
This was achieved by:
- Running full risk assessments and interviewing users by phone before installing technology to make sure they do not themselves have coronavirus symptoms
- Giving installers and assessors PPE and disinfecting equipment before and after visits
- Conducting remote assessments and installations providing phone support to enable users and their families to install equipment themselves
- Switching to different care arrangements whereby relatives can’t be first responders.
We’ve found other ways to carry on despite lockdown restrictions. We were able to complete socially distanced installations with users in other rooms or with family members on the phone. In one instance, we were able to install equipment in one dementia sufferer’s home by working with their relative, who reassured them through an open window from a social distance.
We also provided support to people who had a limited support network and particularly isolated during the pandemic. We were able to help someone who had recently been diagnosed with epilepsy. We installed an under the mattress epilepsy sensor, which identifies a seizure and automatically contacts emergency services, ensuring support was provided quickly, giving them peace of mind.
Keeping people safe and connected
The service has helped take the pressure off healthcare services by freeing up hospital beds for COVID-19 cases. It’s also reassured users who were anxious about going into residential care, as well as easing families’ worries. And, it’s helped lessen isolation for both users and their carers and relatives, by using technology such as tablets to keep in touch to see and regularly interact with loved ones.