Aged care providers can apply for funding to test and develop the potential uses of 5G in aged care facilities.

The first round of the Federal Government’s Australian 5G Innovation Initiative provides businesses grants of up to $2 million  to trial and test 5G applications that demonstrate and the benefits of 5G in their sector.

The grant provides aged care providers a way to explore how 5G can improve their operations, said Gavin Wilson, managing director of company Cradlepoint, which develops wireless networking equipment.

“The aim is to get people to start using the technology and start finding out how much they can benefit from what existing things they can do better, and what new things they can do,” Mr Wilson told Australian Ageing Agenda.

For existing applications, he said providers could explore using 5G to scale up and improve telehealth consulting and remote sensor monitoring.

Gavin Wilson

“They’re existing applications, but now with 5G it has much higher fidelity and it brings much greater speed but also lower latency.”

New applications or uses of the technology providers could trial for doctors or nurses consulting with aged care resident includes a head-up display, which shows data without the need for the user to look away from the resident.

“[T]hose sorts of applications can sort of revolutionise care and it’s being tried and developed now as we speak,” Mr Wilson said.

Tele-robotics is another technology being trialled.

“Part of the biggest challenge in aged care is high-quality trained staff and so when you can free up some of that more menial work that doesn’t need individual interaction with tele-robotics, for example, then that’s going to have a transformative effect. We’re seeing it in hospitality now, delivering room service in hotels,” he said.

In aged care, 5G can also support improving communication between families and residents and managing security infrastructure, he said.

The grant can enable providers to either do something new that adds to their service, or lower their costs by doing something more efficiently and with fewer resources, Mr Wilson said.

“We think aged care is one of the industries that is ripe for this sort of transformation because of all the benefits that fast connectivity can bring. People haven’t thought of the Uber equivalent yet, but they will. And that’s what these initiatives are about,” he said.

The grant is open to incorporated companies, trustees, not-for-profit organisations and government agencies where an application involves a partnership with at least one other eligible entity.

Applications for round one close on 31 March. Find out more here.

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