Portait of a 87 years old senior woman smiling (Image: iStockphoto)

The smarter safer homes project is giving elderly people the confidence they need to stay at home longer. (Image: iStockphoto)

Smarter, safer homes

Helping older people live at home for longer is the goal of a technology-based approach being developed by CSIRO.

  • 8 May 2012 | Updated 26 February 2014

With Australia's health expenditure in excess of A$110 billion annually (over 9 per cent of Gross Domestic Product), there is a strong need to find new ways to provide cost-effective health services that meet the needs of patients, the health system and health workers.

CSIRO, through the Australian e-Health Research Centre, and the University of New England, is developing a low-cost, non-invasive sensor, monitoring and support system for use in either individual homes or a supported-living community.

The system relies on broadband connectivity, such as that being provided by Australia's new national broadband infrastructure.

The project is developing the Smarter Safer Home (SSH) platform that enables people to live longer at home, using broadband network connectivity.

Sensors in the home

In a broadband-connected smart home, a network can connect sensors able to:

  • sense the physical environment, such as heat in the kitchen and bathroom that could cause burns or scalds
  • sense movement inside and outside the house, enabling any decline in movement patterns to be recognised and so help identify slips and falls
  • assist with social inclusion and psychological well-being by connecting with video-conferencing systems enabling people to talk to family and friends
  • collect disease-specific health information, using biomedical devices that transmit data to a remote server for examination and follow-up by healthcare providers.

Current activities

Healthcare workers, older residents and their families will take part in a trial of the technology in New South Wales (NSW).

With the help of an Aged Care Facility and a local general practitioner, sensor networks are being installed in up to 20 broadband-connected residences.

The participants will help design a service that serves the needs of older residents, their families and healthcare staff.

Outcomes

Benefits include enhancing the quality of life of older people and the adult children who support them.

The project is developing the Smarter Safer Home (SSH) platform that enables people to live longer at home, using broadband network connectivity.

Outcomes include:

  • a decision support system for clinicians and healthcare workers that provides alerts and triage for the care of older people living in their own homes
  • a communication and support system for families and carers as well as for older residents.
  • real-world testing of systems in a broadband-connected house.

Partners

Our research partners include the University of New England and the Oregon Center for Aging and Technology in the United States.

Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI)

This research is part of the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation, a national research initiative connecting people to the benefits of broadband through innovative services. 

It is led by CSIRO in conjunction with the National ICT Australia (NICTA) and NBN Co with foundation funding support from the NSW Government.

Read more about the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation or the Australian e-Health Research Centre [external link].

 

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