A successful pilot programme to test a pioneering new health technology has concluded in Wirral.
Sensor equipment from health technology provider 2iC-Care, called Andi, was trialled over four months through a pilot project with Wirral Council and their Telecare provider Medequip.
In that time, the equipment successfully prevented an elderly woman from needing to be admitted to hospital with a kidney infection relating to a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Unplanned admissions to hospital because of UTIs cost the NHS over £300 million per year, and older adults make up 60% of unplanned admissions.
Based on the recent Wirral Council pilot, the innovative new technology could save the local health care system thousands of pounds per year and free up hospital beds.
During the pilot, Andi collected and shared data and insights into different aspects of a person’s environment and behaviour that might affect their health and wellbeing. Andi shared this information in real-time monitoring alerts with care professionals, meaning they could react and respond quickly before an issue worsens.
Angie Buckley (pictured above), a care worker in Wirral, used the new technology to spot that Janet, a woman she supports, had an increased frequency of going to the bathroom over a 36 hour period. Angie immediately passed the information on to the woman’s GP, who was able to review the information collected by the hub, alongside traditional examination and blood tests to diagnose Janet with a kidney infection.
Janet, who lives with dementia, was able to receive immediate treatment in her own home, which prevented her having the potentially distressing experience of having to go to hospital had her condition gone unnoticed and worsened.
As well as supporting Janet to remain comfortable in her familiar environment, this early intervention also saved the NHS hundreds of pounds by preventing Janet from a potentially costly hospital stay.
Angie and her care team typically refer two elderly people a month to hospital for urinary tract infections or associated kidney infection. She said that this technology could be “transformational” for keeping people out of hospital, and in the comfort of their own home.
Research from Age UK shows that once older people have been admitted to hospital, they are more likely to experience a delayed discharge – contributing to the phenomenon known as ‘bed blocking’, which is adding significant and costly pressure to NHS services across the country.
Older people can also experience worse health outcomes if they do have a hospital stay. For patients aged over 75, one in six will be readmitted to hospital within 30 days of being discharged. Spotting issues early and preventing people from needing hospital treatment is therefore more important in this age group, who often receive care and support at home.
The digital Andi hub is tackling this problem by spotting issues early and enabling healthcare professionals to engage and commence treatment at an earlier stage, before the condition escalates to the point of needing a hospital stay. The technology was introduced in Cornwall earlier this year, and is now being trialled in more areas across the country.
The software will also reduce the need for people to manage multiple different home care monitoring devices, which work on different systems, and allow them to access all the information they need to stay well in one place.
Traditional telecare devices operate on analogue phone systems which will be switched off in the UK in 2025. 2iC-Care’s new technology, which connects home care technology together on digital not analogue communications systems, is protecting the future of responsive care at home for hundreds of people.
Michael Hanrahan, Telecare and Telehealth Manager, Wirral Council said, “At Wirral we’ve made a commitment to use to latest technology.
“This pilot allowed us to provide flexibility and personalised care to people in their homes or supported living accommodations. It also enabled us to have a positive impact on the wider community by preventing costly hospital admissions of our elderly population.
“Every year, a significant number of hospital admissions of older people could be avoided if they received care before small health problems became more serious. These avoidable hospital admissions are an unpleasant experience at any age but can be especially problematic for older people.”
Angie Buckley, Care Worker at Professional Carers said, “We know first-hand that hospitalisations due to UTIs and kidney infections are extremely common among older people, and we work hard to ensure those we support are not affected by these issues. However, the Andi hubs meant that even when we aren’t visiting service users, we can keep an eye on them and really get to understand what support they might need.
“The trial with the technology was great at allowing us to be better connected with our service users’ families as well as supporting our care teams in better understanding our service users patterns of behaviour.
“Being able to make sure that Janet didn’t need to go to hospital unnecessarily was amazing, and I’m excited about the positive impact this could have on the overall health and care of our service users and hope other care providers follow lead soon.”
Richard Keyse, Chief Executive Officer of 2iC-Care, who provides Andi digital hubs, said, “When my mother was diagnosed with dementia, I quickly realised how difficult it was to navigate the many different options and technological platforms involved in keeping her safe and well in her own home.
“Andi equips people at home, and their families and care professionals, with one safe place to keep track of their health and wellbeing, especially in between visits from carers.”
Lead image: Stuart Hill and Laura Parker, Care Assistants, enjoy a chat with a local resident during a visit to her home