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Q&A: "Equipment to help carers and people with dementia" - Thurs 18th 3-4pm

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Mark_W

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Sep 28, 2015
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Dementia can make some aspects of everyday life more difficult for the person living with the condition, and in some cases it may also put them at risk.

But there are many types of equipment and assistive technology that can help a person maintain or improve their independence, safety and wellbeing. Carers can also find they offer support and reassurance in caring for someone with dementia.

Our next Q&A will be on the topic of "Equipment to help carers and people with dementia" and Richard from our Knowledge Team will be answering questions on Thursday 18th of January from 3-4pm.

If you have any questions you'd like to ask, you can post there here, or if you prefer, you can email your question to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'd be happy to ask them on your behalf.

Thanks

Mark
 

Marnie63

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Dec 26, 2015
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As I deal with all that needs to be done personal care wise when mum is spending more and more time in bed, I wonder how, in this day and age, there is no easier way of caring for people who are bed bound. The way we have to do things seems so well past its sell by date in these days of advanced technology. Surely it's time someone devised easier ways to do this and therefore help carers, care home and hospital staff, etc. deal with this. All the rolling back and forth, all the pulling up the bed as once you've done one thing, the person's feet are pressing down on the bottom board again. Why not some better, high tech, type of bed or mattress that at least repositions someone without all the huge carer effort and ridiculous slide sheets currently in use? How about incorporating some kind of disposable bedding so that if anything gets soiled, the mattress rolls round to provide a fresh sheet? I'm sure it could be done, but I guess it's not exciting enough for people to want to do! That's what would help me, and probably a lot of others in the same position.
 

Mark_W

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Sep 28, 2015
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Hi just to bump this thread, we're still taking questions here for the Q&A that starts today at 3pm so you've still got time to ask Richard a question on "Equipment to help carers and people with dementia".
 

Mark_W

Registered User
Sep 28, 2015
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London
Hello everyone we're just about to start the Q&A session so let me introduce Richard our Knowledge Officer for Assistive Technology here at Alzheimer's Society who'll be answering your questions today.
 

Richard.P

New member
Dec 6, 2017
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Hi all,

Thank you for having me, I am Richard from Knowledge team and my specialism is assistive technology/dementia friendly technology to support people with dementia, their carers and families. The purpose of my role is to increase the knowledge base of assistive technology to support colleagues around the Society. I also work alongside the Society’s Online shop team contributing to assistive technology products sold in the shop but as well to increase the information and guidance to support people looking to purchase these products.

Before working for Alzheimer’s Society I previously worked in a London Borough’s Adult Social Services teams including Occupational therapy teams dealing with equipment more generally and then telecare/assistive technology team, which was following previous experience as a full time carer for my father. I am very passionate about how technology can support people and their carers.

That’s enough about me! I look forward to answering your questions :).

Richard
 

Richard.P

New member
Dec 6, 2017
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As I deal with all that needs to be done personal care wise when mum is spending more and more time in bed, I wonder how, in this day and age, there is no easier way of caring for people who are bed bound. The way we have to do things seems so well past its sell by date in these days of advanced technology. Surely it's time someone devised easier ways to do this and therefore help carers, care home and hospital staff, etc. deal with this. All the rolling back and forth, all the pulling up the bed as once you've done one thing, the person's feet are pressing down on the bottom board again. Why not some better, high tech, type of bed or mattress that at least repositions someone without all the huge carer effort and ridiculous slide sheets currently in use? How about incorporating some kind of disposable bedding so that if anything gets soiled, the mattress rolls round to provide a fresh sheet? I'm sure it could be done, but I guess it's not exciting enough for people to want to do! That's what would help me, and probably a lot of others in the same position.

Thanks for your question, I am sorry to hear about your difficulties in your caring role. Firstly I wondered about the type of bed your mother currently has. I know that there are beds available often referred to as hospital beds, because like hospital beds they have a range of functions including raising and lowering but also moving into different positions to support the care being provided in bed.

Secondly I thought I would just mention on reviewing the information provided it might be a good idea (just in case you haven’t already) to have Occupational Therapy (OT) input. An OT should be able to advise on different beds and on caring techniques to support you both. There maybe also be other things identified that may help following an assessment. The type of OT input the local authority provide can vary in different areas, but most OT’s can offer support and guidance around care provided in bed including on safe moving and handling, transfers and equipment which can support this for example patient turners and hoists. I know this wasn’t mention in your question but I hope this is ok to mention here in case helpful.

In terms of beds I have only seen a few variations of the above mentioned beds available to purchase often referred to as nursing beds or hospital beds when searching for these. Whilst other equipment and technology is developing all the time, I believe there haven’t been further developments in this area are the functions and mechanisms even a standard bed has, usually there are quite costly to produce as standard and therefore developing these any further adds to that cost.

In terms of developments I have only heard of two recently. I understand a large technology company developed the world’s first smart bed, but I have not heard any evidence or research around this since. Also there is a new bed in development (although again I have not seen an update recently regarding its progress) which works as a turning aid. If you enter bed turning aid in or rolling bed in a search engine I am sure it will come up with more information. But as mentioned I understand this is still in development and haven’t seen it available to purchase yet.
 

Mark_W

Registered User
Sep 28, 2015
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London
And our first question via email from Deborah is:

"I see a lot of gadgets and devices out there for supporting people like my husband but nothing to help me. Is there much technology out there for me as a carer?"
 

Richard.P

New member
Dec 6, 2017
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And our first question via email from Deborah is:

"I see a lot of gadgets and devices out there for supporting people like my husband but nothing to help me. Is there much technology out there for me as a carer?"

Hi, thanks so much for your question I am glad you asked this as firstly to confirm we purposely titled the session ‘carers and people with dementia’, as often it is not acknowledged how these devices could benefit everyone involved including the carer or family members who provide the most support, as well as their loved one.

I believe this is due to a number of reasons, including assessments, products and marketing usually being for the ‘cared for’ person, but there are often many benefits to the carer also.

Every person is different and they have different needs, and not all technology will suit the needs of everyone, but an example of technology which could benefit both people could be: if a person with advanced dementia has started to get confused and disorientated at night and started go out at inappropriate times in inappropriate clothing.

Introducing door sensor or movement detector linked to a pager for the carer, which could send an alert to the person who can be alerted to this happening. The result of course a benefit to the person’s safety, but importantly also the stress on the carer could be reduced and supporting the carer in their caring role. From my experience visiting a couple in a similar situation to the one described where the persons wife/carer would not actually go to sleep and take 'half-awake just in case’, which was having a detrimental impact on their own health being. And introducing this simple technology improved the situation considerably for both people.

There are lots of examples of products like this where the focus is on the need of the person and not the benefit to all people involved.
 

Mark_W

Registered User
Sep 28, 2015
4,036
0
London
And here's another question from email by D:

"Hello and my question is about my wife not being safe going to the toilet by herself in the night, I need to know when she gets up from the bed at night because at the moment I just find out too late and she has fallen. She had to go to hospital at Christmas, so we really do need some help. If there anything that can help me?"
 

Richard.P

New member
Dec 6, 2017
5
0
And here's another question from email by D:

"Hello and my question is about my wife not being safe going to the toilet by herself in the night, I need to know when she gets up from the bed at night because at the moment I just find out too late and she has fallen. She had to go to hospital at Christmas, so we really do need some help. If there anything that can help me?"

Thanks for your question, I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you and your wife are having at night. This is a common conversation I have had where the person maybe not be able to make the decision to call for help when needed.

Firstly equipment and assistive technology is now widely available to be privately purchased including from the Society online shop and other charities shops. But depending on the service in your local authority provides, many offer assessments for and issuing of equipment that can support within the home for a person and their carers.

I am unable to link to or recommend certain equipment, there are a number of devices which maybe support in the situation. Often devices like this are often referred to as standalone telecare meaning that unlike monitoring telecare which is linked externally via a telephone line, these sensors can be instead linked to alert on a mobile pager within the home.

Generally a pager is battery powered and simple to use, for your particular situation it may benefit to consider use of having a bed sensor mat or a PIR (passive infrared) movement detector linked to a pager. This would alert when your wife is exiting the bed either when it detects the pressure change associated or with the movement detector the movement by the side of the bed - alerting you on the pager you could keep on a side table if possible.
 

Mark_W

Registered User
Sep 28, 2015
4,036
0
London
Our helpline team often get questions about monitoring systems to help carers and relatives keep an eye on someone with dementia. So are there any other systems you know about and are there any ethical issues with regards to monitoring someone, even though there are no cameras involved?
 

Richard.P

New member
Dec 6, 2017
5
0
Our helpline team often get questions about monitoring systems to help carers and relatives keep an eye on someone with dementia. So are there any other systems you know about and are there any ethical issues with regards to monitoring someone, even though there are no cameras involved?

Thanks for the question this is really interesting topic to bring up as there are a number of benefits of introducing systems like these, both to the person and the carer/family member - but a number of things to consider also.

The first thing to note as mentioned, with all equipment and assistive technology and especially ones like this that report and monitoring on a person’s movements. There are ethical considerations and the needs of the person should always be considered. For example if the person has capacity it should be their decision if they wish to have/use the technology like this, and if the person does not have capacity then it is about best interests of the person. More information on ethical considerations can be found here within our Assistive technology factsheet:

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20030/staying_independent/30/assistive_technology/6

Further information specifically around a person’s capacity and decision making can be found here:

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20032/legal_and_financial/127/mental_capacity_act/4

Although I am unable to recommend or link to a certain monitoring system there have been a number of developments in this area over the last few years, and examples of commonly used ones are ‘Just Checking’ and ‘Canary Care’. These types of systems are often referred to as activity monitoring systems when looking in to them, they usually have an online management system where data collected can be viewed but this has also now developed to ‘app’ management on a smart phone or tablet. The idea is the systems can help people to stay independent in their own home for longer, whilst providing support to their carer or family member who are unable to visit as often as they like r who are out for set periods of the day (for example working).

The system is made up of often a base unit containing a sim card which simply plugs into a power source and pre-programmed sensors which link/talks to the unit, and the sensors are positioned around the house often with strong tape rather than screws etc. This unit transfers the data to a protected server which can be accessed by only authorised/approved people. The sensors which are commonly included in standard systems are wireless PIR movement sensors (passive infrared sensors) which pick up movements in a certain range of each sensor, magnetic door contacts (which can be used for front or internal doors, fridges, cupboard or wardrobes). These sensors help to build up a picture of a person’s movement in the property, but further to this based on the person’s needs and normal activities/movement the sensors created a logs every time a sensor detects a change (for example movement in the kitchen). This helps to build up a picture of the person’s movements during the day, but more importantly settings can be added to detect if something is away from the normal movement expected or if movement hasn’t happened (often referred to as activity or inactivity). An example of this it could be usually based on a person’s movement they would be expected to go into the living room by 10am in the morning but the movement has not been detected.

The system is easy to install, simple to use, and creates a clear summary of daily living activity that you can view securely online.

Although the systems above do not use cameras as specified in the question but related, I just thought I would include a link to a useful blog which was created by my colleague who specialises in Legal and Welfare Rights, covering the use of camera’s including CCTV:

https://blog.alzheimers.org.uk/deme...9.1072406471.1513937378-2082800884.1513937378
 

Mark_W

Registered User
Sep 28, 2015
4,036
0
London
That's all the questions we have time for so It's just for me to say thank you to Richard for all the answers today.

If you have any further questions please do post them on the forum and our online community will be glad to help you.
 
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