Innovative tech assists seniors in distress

World-first wearables developed by an Australian start-up are being trialled here and the US to help vulnerable people in difficulty, such as people with dementia.

World-first wearables developed by an Australian start-up are being trialled here and the United States to help vulnerable individuals in difficulty, such as aged care residents living with dementia.

Called GVDP – Global Voluntary Disclosure Project – the system comprises an online database that allows users to electronically declare their individual needs.

GVDP is the only platform where users are able to curate information for themselves or for others for use in emergency situations, said its founder Kathrine Peereboom.

Kathrine Peereboom

“It allows an individual or a legal guardian to be able to create a profile for their loved one or for themselves and disclose any information that they would like a first responder to understand about them in a time of duress or in a time of an inability to communicate,” Ms Peereboom told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“You have the ability to disclose your medical conditions, you can disclose things like your diagnosis, you can talk to people about what are the things that are going to trigger behaviours,” said Ms Peereboom.

First responders using a mobile phone or tablet can access data about the individual that enables them to approach every situation with the background they need for accurate situational awareness and understanding.

Included in the system are two standalone apps – one for first responders and another for general users – and a range of wearable devices such as smart watches that contain tracking beacons. These features haven’t been combined before in the one system, said Ms Peereboom. “It’s a world-first platform.”

“The system is incredible beneficial in aged care settings.”

Kathrine Peereboom

GVDP also features a GPS to define geographical boundaries. “We have things such as geo-fencing, which if there was a geo-fencing alert put on my grandma and she took a step outside the aged care facility, an SOS alert would be triggered to all emergency contacts that are registered under her profile,” explained Ms Peereboom.

The system is incredibly beneficial in aged care settings, where various members of a care team need to quickly access residents’ data, said Ms Peereboom.

“So when you’ve got different nurses coming in, different people coming in, there is no need to go back though paperwork to understand who [residents] are. Because literally within a minute of a scan, you can see that this is Michelle Jones, she’s 88-years-old, she has dementia, she’s on heart medication and these are the things that are going to help her calm down if she has an episode.”

It also allows a hierarchy within the organisation to be able to pass that information on, said Ms Peereboom, “through to case workers and state managers and senior administrators.” The system is also useful for those living independently but who still require support, she added.

GVDP was developed with input from a variety of stakeholders, Ms Peereboom told AAA. “We spoke to peak bodies, we spoke to different disability sectors, individuals, support workers and care support agencies. We wanted to make sure that this was a robust system that could support every disability and every person that has a vulnerability.”

Developed in partnership with some of the biggest players in the tech space – including Microsoft and SoftwareOne – GVDP is being trialled in Queensland and Texas ahead of a global rollout in October.

Representatives from Queensland Police Service, Queensland Ambulance Service, Hearing Australia, autism communities, Chicago Police Department, the FBI and Special Olympics are involved.

“With the GVDP … no elderly person will ever walk away from their care home lost for hours or days, no vulnerable person will ever have to endure unnecessary and avoidable hardship as a result of their situation,” Ms Peereboom said.

Main image: a GVDP wristband

Tags: dementia, Global Voluntary Disclosure Project, Kathrine Peereboom, wearable,

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