CSIRO rolls out Smarter Safer Home platform on Sunshine Coast

CSIRO has moved out of the technological development stage of its Smarter Safer Home care support platform and into investigating how it can be used by different community services through a partnership that is bringing the platform to the elderly and people living with disabilities on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

CSIRO is working with Sunshine Coast-based in-home and community care support provider Bromilow Home Support Services and Sydney-based Global Community Resourcing to install the smart sensor platform in five homes in Queensland, with hopes of expanding it throughout the country with the support of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), federally funded home support programs and state governments.

CSIRO, through the Australian e-Health Research Centre (AEHRC), has been developing the platform for a number of years. It includes environmental sensors and sensor networks that can monitor the physical environment within the home as well as human movement, health monitoring equipment tailored to particular conditions, video conferencing technology that can be used by the person in the home and their families and carers, and consumer and clinical portals.

The AEHRC has been trialling the technology with the University of New England, a local GP and an aged care facility in a pilot project in northern NSW. That trial involves 14 independently living elderly people who are provided with the sensor technologies as well as an iPad and apps that enable them to connect with families and healthcare practitioners. Information relayed from the sensor networks is supported by high-speed broadband through the NBN.

AEHRC CEO David Hansen said one of the differences with the new Sunshine Coast project was that it involved several people with disabilities as well as older people.

“We are starting to look at the range of services this technology is going to enable,” Dr Hansen said. “We are moving away from just developing the technology, which we think is really robust, to a phase of trying to understand what services it will enable.

“That can be either existing services that we can make more productive or what new services might be possible with the technology, and how that fits economically within either existing government funding or within new services that people might be willing to pay for.”

One participant in the new project is Eleanor Horton, a senior lecturer in nursing at the Sunshine Coast University, who is using the technology to help monitor and maintain the health and safety of her husband Patrick, who lives at home after a serious stroke 15 years ago.

The couple can use video conferencing to communicate during the day, while biomedical devices are used to transmit data to a remote server and monitored by Bromilow, which is providing home support.

Bromilow CEO Paul Hawting said the home care sensor technology had the potential to maximise assistance with the efficient use of clinical and care workers.

Anne Livingstone, research and development lead with Global Community Resourcing, who facilitated the technology trials, said the use of the technology had the potential to provide huge savings to governments compared to hospital and aged care expenditure.

Dr Hansen said his team was providing the technology as a complete package, but as more adaptive technologies were arriving built in to personal devices and consumer products, it would be possible to exploit these technologies for the Smarter Safer Home platform.

“At the moment what we have done is to develop the technology, so there is an iPad app which can either go to the carer or the person themselves in the house, there's a family portal which we are running and which is accessed by their family if they want, there is a clinical portal that the service providers are using, and then there are the actual sensors, the sensor networks and health equipment,” he said.

“We make sure the health measuring equipment is TGA-approved and we support a number of those. With the sensors, we still only support those that we've found are really reliable and robust.

“We provide all of that, but in the end, we think that as more and more things have inbuilt sensors, there will be adaptive sensor networks that we can use with our platform. They will be much more intelligent in using whatever sensors are available, whether it's your phone or the fridge or the smart TV.”

Dr Hansen said Bromilow was not yet doing 24/7 remote monitoring but was using the platform to see how it can improve its services. “This project is the first that includes a service provider, but over the next few months we are hoping to have a number of trials underway and some of them are much larger than this one.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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