False alarms for falls and blind spots are among the hurdles South Australia’s trial of a video and audio surveillance system in residential aged care has overcome in its first six months. 

SA Health commenced a 12-month trial of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring system to enhance resident safety and care in March with technology partner Sturdie Trade Services.

The trial involves 12 residents at Mount Pleasant Aged Care, 14 residents at Northgate House, video and audio recording devices in bedrooms and indoor common areas and video recording devices in outdoor common areas.

The system uses artificial intelligence to detect falls, acts of violence and calls for help and automatically alerts an independent monitoring centre who notifies the aged care facility when these or any other problems are identified.

Cassie Mason

SA Health director of the Office for Ageing Well Cassie Mason, who will provide an update on the state-run trial at the AAG Conference in November, said that as expected, there were a lot of false alarms detected at the beginning.

“Some of the challenges with using AI is the learning process of the technology to make sure you’re accurately detecting those trigger events,” Ms Mason told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“We did a lot of testing of the AI before going live. But the people testing were technicians; middle aged men. When they fall over, it looked quite different to perhaps how an older person who lives in aged care might have a fall,” Ms Mason said.

“Making sure that the technology then learnt those fall patterns… over the first few months, was something that needed to occur.”

She said blind spots were another challenge they have tried to address through camera placement.

Two cameras have been added to some bedrooms to improve accuracy, Ms Mason said.

“That was something that we decided partway through the trial in a couple of bedrooms,” she said.

Ms Mason said the trial also found that using AI to monitor residents instead of regular CCTV influenced participation.

“The fact that it was the AI technology that would be picking up those events rather than somebody continually watching the footage of the bedroom was… an attractive reason to opt in,” she said

“If it had been just regular CCTV that somebody was watching all the time, they wouldn’t have felt comfortable with that.”

Feedback to date shows staff have found false alarms frustrating but on-site technical support teams helpful in addressing issues, Ms Mason said.

She hopes the trial captures the experiences and nuances around implementing CCTV in aged care.

“We know that the use of CCTV and aged care is quite a polarising issue across the community,” Ms Mason said.

“I’m hoping that it really opens up the conversation to share a lot of the different aspects and the things that need to be considered in this space,” she said.

The trial, which was announced in April 2019, commenced almost two years late because of technology partner issues and the health pandemic. It also includes three homes fewer than initially planned.

Ms Mason expects the independent evaluation of the trial to be finalised by mid-2022. 

The AAG Conference takes place as a virtual event on 9 – 12 November.

Australian Ageing Agenda is a media partner of the AAG.

Main image: Margaret (Peg) Roesler and her daughter Christine Salleh who are participating in the CCTV trial.

Comment on the story below. Follow Australian Ageing Agenda on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, sign up to our twice-weekly newsletter and subscribe to AAA magazine for the complete aged care picture.  

Join the Conversation

2 Comments

  1. First of all, I strongly believe CCTV is vitally important to protect both, Residents and staff. Mum died the day after a fall from her bed, staff did not notice for over two hours.
    With consent, they should be in every Aged Care Facility room .
    I’d also like to say that some of the footage we’ve all seen in Submissions to the Royal Commission and often in the news, 4Corners current affairs etc showing cases of severe abuse were brilliant quality sound and video considering they filmed by hidden cameras installed by family members.
    Many were used as evidence in Court and on occasions resulted in reasonable outcomes.
    Why does it have to be so difficult for professionals to work out a successful installation? This is 2021 and technology us amazing. We have cameras everywhere, in shops, Banks, Airports, Restaurants etc.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.