Senior housing operators for many years turned to buttons, pull cords and other nurse call systems, as effective, but rudimentary, solutions to address seniors’ increased fall risk. Although workable in some ways, these systems have continuously fallen short in many important areas, including timeliness, capability, and productivity.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, “about 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die each year from fall-related injuries and those who survive frequently sustain injuries that result in permanent disability and reduced quality of life.” This figure, while startlingly, does not include data from facilities that are not monitored and tracked at a national level as Medicare certified nursing homes are. Therefore, it does not even include the more than one million Americans who live in assisted living communities.
Nationally, falls by older adults in the U.S. lead to $34 billion in direct medical costs according to the CDC. Other costs associated with long-term falls, such as disability, dependence on others, and reduced quality of life and not considered in this total.
As seniors age, they tend to experience a decline in mobility and difficulty with balance. This aging process gradually impacts seniors’ ambulation and increases their risk of falling. As a result, fall prevention is a top priority for senior care providers. Yet, fall related injuries still cause a lamentably high number of fatalities at senior living communities as reported by the CDC stats above.
There is now an alternative available that is smarter, more efficient, and more effective than a traditional nurse call systems. Passive health monitoring allows seniors to feel more independent and ensures their dignity while allowing operators to manage staffing. Passive health monitoring is a system of interlocking technologies, including sensor technology and artificial intelligence (AI). This system provides more timely responses to crises.
In passive health monitoring, AI is employed to gather and analyze information on a range of health indicators provided by the sensors. Residents do not need to activate or interact with the sensors in any way. Staff also do not need to worry about updating or managing the sensors or intelligence until an alert is registered. The information is collected automatically, and the AI software uses it to continuously create a dynamic picture of a resident’s vital information. The software analyzes data over time in order to learn the patterns indicative of wellness and those that may signify potential danger.
Passive health monitoring, via environmentally embedded sensors takes the notion of resident care, safety, and caregiver alerts to a whole new level. Automating previously manual tasks drives greater efficiencies and better outcomes.
Who benefits from passive health monitoring?
Practically everyone engaged in the senior care enterprise, including residents, staff, family, and operators see benefits of passive health monitoring.
From the resident’s point of view, there is a heightened sense of independence and dignity, without sacrificing their health and safety. There’s no question as to whether one will be able to push the button in a crisis because there is no button to push. Meanwhile, residents will experience fewer intrusions into their personal space for check-ins and other wellbeing assessments as the staff can rely on the solution for routine monitoring.
For the staff, continuous monitoring relieves some of the pressure on any given shift, ensuring an alert will sound if needed, even without constant oversight—thus freeing caregivers to allocate their time more effectively.
Families get peace of mind, as well as the certainty of more open and constant communications. Under the old way of doing things, a staff member might not think to notify family of a negative health event. Passive systems can be set to automatically notify loved ones should an event occur, so that families can relax knowing any news that needs to reach them will do so
Operators see advantages across the board. More productive and happier staff, healthier and happier residents—all leading to less turnover and higher occupancies, as we shall see in the coming sections.
Passive sensors and AI mean healthier and happier residents, peace of mind for families, and better results for operators. To learn more about the pros and calls of nurse alert systems, download Choosing Remote Health Technology: What Every Senior Living Organization Must Know.