Hasten slowly with 4G rollout in retirement villages

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David Waldie points to the short and long-term personal alarm system issues and opportunities that need to be considered now, before committing to 4G.

All retirement village operators with in-room and personal alarm systems utilising the 3G network will need to have converted to 4G compliant equipment and systems by 2024, when 3G will be turned off.

Significant capital expense options

This is likely to come at considerable capital expense for village operators. The dilemma is do you simply ask your existing supplier if they can upgrade, and if yes, just do so.

Or do you acknowledge that it will be a significant investment and you view this as an opportunity to reduce business risk, increase the efficiency of your business and expand the marketing and value that you bring to potential residents?

The future of personal alarm systems is very different to its role today as an emergency alarm.

The IT ecosystem is forecast to be the cornerstone of the new era where care is integral to the retirement village offering.

The rollover from 3G to 4G is an opportunity to correctly set your village business up for this new future.

Tomorrow’s retirement village and IT

We asked David Waldie, Founder and Managing Director of Eevi, the leading care support technology platform, where he sees technology today and tomorrow for retirement villages.

“There is no doubt that retirement villages are the logical place for congregated home care, where home care packages will be efficiently and effectively delivered into communities, exactly as the Royal Commission recommended,” said David.

“Imagine wearables and in-home sensors measuring movement, vital signs and so on, delivering this data to the village management so you can be proactive in the care and support you bring to the residents. This will occur and it will be exciting; but will it occur now? We don’t think so.”

“Should you be ready for it – yes of course. Today this means ensuring you have the right infrastructure in place and the right tech partners to guide you.”

Leading edge of ‘responsible’

“At Eevi, we employ the best people to keep us at the forefront of emerging strategies, equipment, platforms and care concepts from around the world, so you would think we would be excited by the possibilities coming to our clients in the retirement village sector.”

“We are excited, but we are not buying all the breathless enthusiasm that some other service providers are promoting to the sector. We believe it’s important to hasten slowly.”

“For instance, wearables are supposed to be the game changer in falls detection, but the research tells us to be careful.   One large US study of a popular fall detection pendant found that, for every 8 alarms detected by the pendant, a nurse recorded only one fall.   And for every 5 falls detected by the nurse, the pendant detected only one fall.”

“This is counter-productive.  Staff will have been called out many times unnecessarily, and when they are really needed it is unlikely they will be called out at all.”

“When a personal alarm system loses trust with Village staff and the village residents, you have a real problem.”

60 seconds is life and death

David said, “We take very seriously the person lying on the floor, it is life and death, and it is trust. As part of our ISO3000 standards based approach to safety, we recognise that our call centres must respond to a resident emergency call as quickly as possible, within 60 seconds, which is half of the industry standard.”

“That 60 seconds could save a life, but equally important, the residents are reassured that the system works.”

“We do have sensors, but sensible ones that collect data. We want fewer (false) alarms and more insights. We want more sensible and sustainable regulatory compliance to support business risk management.”

New tools, the right time

“At Eevi, we seek out the best technology from around the world, curated by the smartest minds in the industry, and then test it in focus groups with real residents to see if it is relevant, to see if they trust it.”

“This led us to using Google Home now for a couple of years for voice augmented care. We found the Samsung Smart Watch the best GPS for residents out and about. And we have Smart Things sensors for in the home but tailored to the resident.”

“We have also invested in our own Eevi Gateway and Eevi Cloud Service.  With these, we can control our ability to integrate with any other technology and give our customers confidence in ongoing costs and supply.   Most competitors bypass this by signing up to somebody else’s platform and then they and their customers are hostage to it.  We didn’t want that constraint, for us or our customers.”

IT flexibility is key with 4G

In summary, the required investment you make today to transition to 4G is best if it delivers a safe and secure personal alarm ecosystem for now, but an open platform for where you may want to take the business in 2-5 years from now to remain competitive and open to new opportunities.