Funding for falls prevention research

VMCH and partners are undertaking a three-year research project using AI-driven devices to predict and prevent falls in aged care.

Victorian aged care, retirement living and disability provider VMCH is taking part in a three-year research project using artificial intelligence to predict and prevent falls among aged care residents.

The partnership – which includes falls detection technology company HomeGuardian.AI and researchers from Deakin University – has received a $2.65 million Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) grant. This federally funded grant program supports short-term collaborative research projects for products that will “solve problems for industry and deliver real outcomes”.

Falls are a major problem for both aged care residents and older people in the community. Residential aged care quality indicator data from 2021-22 shows that almost a third of aged care residents experienced a fall each quarter that year and just over 2 per cent of falls caused a major injury.

HomeGuardian features AI-driven non-wearable devices and behavioural analysis, which can detect when someone slips or falls and issues an alert within two seconds.

The funding allows VMCH to deploy more than $1-million worth of devices and support to monitor falls across its aged care homes to help identify and enhance preventative measures.

VMCH chief information officer Maria Paz said the provider was “thrilled” to be a key partner in this project. “This grant will allow VMCH to continue to be a leading innovator in the adoption and development of technology solutions, through industry and research partnerships, to positively impact the broader sector,” Ms Paz said.

Maria Paz

“This technology has the potential to not only help reduce hospital admissions and injuries, but also save lives. Even when falls don’t cause injury, they can trigger a loss of confidence and an ongoing fear of falling. This technology would help boost independence that is so important to maintain as people age, plus provide peace of mind for families and carers.”

HomeGuardian’s devices are similar in size to a portable speaker. The platform uses optical sensors to monitor residents’ movements and interactions and is aware of what is a normal action, such as sitting in a chair or lying on a bed.

The tech started gaining traction in the aged care sector in 2020, winning three awards that year, plus the people’s choice award at CareFactor the year after.

HomeGuardian.AI founder and chief executive officer Kane Sajdak said HomeGuardian was happy to partner with VMCH and Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2) to take the technology to a new level.

Kane Sajdak

“HomeGuardian.AI is excited to undertake crucial research which will enable the transformation of our award-winning fall detection device into a revolutionary fall prediction technology,” Mr Sajdak told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“The HomeGuardian device’s Artificial Intelligence algorithms will be closely analysed and updated to allow fall prediction, and subsequently, predictive care that has never been seen before in the aged care landscape.”

HomeGuardian CEO David Pearce said the technology had the potential to save the health system money and ease the sector’s staffing challenges.

“Recent reports show that falls are costing Australian governments more than $3 billion in hospital admissions each year, while staff shortages in the aged care and disability industries continue to also put pressure on the care field,” Mr Pearce told AAA.

“HomeGuardian’s futuristic fall detection assistive technology is promising to ease these industry constraints through artificial intelligence-driven automatic escalation.”

The project will run until December 2025.

Main image: VMCH aged care residents will be part of an innovative trial of AI-driven falls prevention technology

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Tags: deakin-university, falls, falls-prevention, featured, homeguardian, maria-paz, VMCH,

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