An aged care provider is trialling new technology that combines artificial intelligence and data analytics to identify when an aged care resident is likely to have a fall.

Advanced Risk Modelling for Early Detection (ARMED), also shows data trends and areas of significance and concern.

ARMED, which involves residents wearing a smart watch, measures and analyses critical factors  such as daily activity levels, inactivity, sleep quality, weight, muscle mass, hydration levels and strength.

The United Kingdom-developed technology raises low, medium and high alert flags to indicate the likelihood of a resident falling in the next 32 days to allow aged care staff and physicians to intervene with measures to prevent a fall.

Victorian health and aged care provider Mansfield District Hospital is trialling ARMED with 13 aged care residents at Binadree Retirement Centre and Buckland House Nursing Home.

Mansfield District Hospital CEO Cameron Butler said it  was looking to significantly reduce the number of falls among its aged care clients.

“Falls represent the biggest clinical risk for providers and the biggest risk for residents in aged care. So if we can prevent a fall in an aged care facility, we can prevent harm, we can prevent death that arises from a fall and we can prevent hospital transfers,” Mr Butler told Australian Ageing Agenda.

The trial has so far halved the number of residents at the highest risk of having a fall, Mr Butler said.

“The strategy we’ve put in place and what residents are adhering to are having an effect. Yes, they’re still at risk of a fall, but they’re at a lesser risk of a fall,” Mr Butler said.

From left, back row: Cameron Butler, Susan McCormack, Edward Slocombe. Front row: Trial participants Sandra Coffey and Neil Phipps

The technology has also encouraged participants to be more alert about their own health, he said.

“Residents are keen to see their own information and data… so when we tell them that they’re dehydrated or their hydration status has worsened, they will make sure to take conscious effort to increase their fluid intake or similarly they can increase their steps and their activity that they take throughout the course of the day,” he said.

The technology will benefit residents by reducing harm and helping them  maintain their independence and function to the best  it can be, Mr Butler said.

Technology ‘a game changer’

ARMED project leader Edward Slocombe said the key to this technology was its ability to identify risks early.

“Detecting the risk of falls before they happen, allowing preventative intervention, is a game changer in the support of older Australians, in community home care, retirement living and residential care settings,” Mr Slocombe said.

“The artificial intelligence, analysis and remote data collection of ARMED technology becomes even more important with the need for social isolation imposed by the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.

The trial is due to end on 30 June.

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