Federal Government encouraged to fund ‘smart home’ technology for senior Australians

Federal Government encouraged to fund ‘smart home’ technology for senior Australians

Feros Care, a not-for-profit aged care organisation who operate a Telecare  technology service called LifeLink, is calling upon the Federal Government to expand funding that will allow Australia’s elderly population to access ‘smart home’ technologies that could save their lives.

In response to the ACT Police’s plea for neighbours to look out for elderly people and the recent tragic events of senior people being found deceased in their homes months later – and in one case eight years later – Feros Care is encouraging the Federal Government to fund technology that is available in Australia now, but is limited to a small percentage of the senior population due to the current limitations of such technology being provided through aged care programs e.g.  Home and Community Care (HACC).

Feros Care is one of the first organisations in Australia to offer Telecare “smart home” technology, either at a private expense or under the Commonwealth Community Aged Care Package programs. The technology can include inactivity sensors (alerting to a lack of movement in the home), fall detectors, chair and bed sensors, safety pendants, security alarms, or even property exit (wandering) sensors. All of the equipment is linked to a base alarm in the house which can automatically raise an alert and have help arrive quickly, be it family, friends or emergency services.

Feros Care CEO Jennene Buckley said the technology is here and ready to be implemented into more homes, if the government could allow it.

“The technology is new to Australia, but it is offered as a main stream service for the elderly population in other countries including England for many years. Feros Care ran a self-funded trial in 2010 to see if implementation was worthwhile and the results were very encouraging with reports of a greater sense of safety and independence, as well as peace of mind for family and/or carers, knowing that if their elderly loved one is sick, injured or immobile they will be automatically alerted,” Ms Buckley said.

“Sometimes all it takes is for a senior to have one undetected fall that can lead to reduced confidence and increased anxiety, possibly resulting in premature nursing home admission. The installation of an unobtrusive inactivity sensor can generate an automatic alert if there is an extended period of no movement in a senior’s home, avoiding dreadful outcomes such as those we have heard recently.

“The Government should be viewing this technology as a way to help combat the issues of anxiety and concern around seniors living alone and no one knowing they are hurt or sick or in some situations passed away. More and more seniors want to remain in their own home, and families, carers and aged care service providers need greater assistance in ensuring this population is well looked after,” said Ms Buckley.

Feros Care’s LifeLink trial, Telehealthcare – Supporting People to Live Safely and Independently at Home: An Australian Pilot Program, found that 90% of clients felt that their quality of life had improved with the technology, 94% reported an increase in independence and security, while 76% of clients were less fearful of having an undetected fall. More information about Feros Care’s LifeLink technology and pilot results can be found on this website using the tabs at the top of the page.