40,000 – the number of people under 65 who have dementia.
225,000 – the number of people who will develop dementia this year.
850,000 – the number of people living with dementia.
1,000,000 – the estimated number of people who will be living with the condition by 2025.
When you look beyond the UK, these figures increase dramatically with an estimated 7.7 million people developing the condition every year! Welcome news comes from the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust who have been awarded funding by NHS England and Innovate UK. The two-year “Test Bed” project will explore IoT applications and how these innovative technologies can give those with dementia more control over their well-being.
As one of the country’s leading providers of specialist mental health, drug, alcohol and learning disability services in southern England, the Trust will collaborate with leading technology companies and learning institutions to explore how network-enabled devices can provide better healthcare for the elderly at home. The Test Bed project stems from a concept that through remote connectivity, carers and medical personnel can better monitor patient behaviour without having to be in a specific location, for example at a patient’s home or care facility. Modern technologies can provide life-improving benefits which, with a growing elderly population, can help support those with long-term physical and mental health conditions without the need for hospital visits and extended stays.
The Test Bed project also aims to provide insight into how the NHS can improve response times. By supporting those with dementia at an earlier stage, the NHS can help to reduce the amount of time people are spending in hospital, therefore freeing resource and reducing overheads. Surrey is just one of two NHS Trusts that are involved with the Test Bed project and its partners come from all over the country, including universities, local commissioning groups and national charities. On the technology side, there are already a number of industry leaders that are pushing forward with new technologies, including:
- Howz – a connected device that can be mounted on doors or white goods to monitor electricity, light, movement and temperature. This application can then send family members and medical personnel regular updates on movement and activity.
- St. Bernard Location Service – a GPS-based emergency location service that is integrated into a bracelet and acts as an out-of-home detector.
- Olivia from Sensely – a virtual nurse service capable of providing tailor-made advice using artificial intelligence and speech recognition. With powerful data collection, Olivia can provide daily notifications to medical personnel and medication reminders for patients, along with a wide range of support services and features.
- Healtrix – an integrated healthcare platform that makes home-based monitoring more efficient. This connected system offers a number of services including data analysis for early warnings and alerts, and at-home measurements.
The project will take results from more than 10% of those on the county’s dementia register with all data being collected and analysed by the University of Surrey. These insights will lead to more effective decisions regarding patient care as well as improving decision making times for caregivers, clinicians and support groups.
When it comes to IoT solutions, there are clear concerns regarding privacy, both for medical and non-medical applications. When you leverage the benefits of these innovative technologies with the improvements they bring to the quality of care, the hope is that these advantages will almost always outweigh the concerns.